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Motivation and Emotion

Developing A Positive Outlook

For humankind, emotions are part of our very nature; our make-up. But why? Why do we behave in certain ways?

Psychologists have observed that our motivation comes from instinct or goals. Achievement or the sheer passion for a particular job might inspire others, while some get a buzz from self-fulfillment, or the power that comes with promotion.

Motivation is defined as the internal and/or external attributes that cause and determine behavior. A motive might be described as a common link among behavior and stimuli– for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction, right? These motives are described as emotional, biological, cognitive and social.

Human instincts are wide and varied and the more psychologists try to understand the intricacies of human nature, the more impossible this task seemed. By the 1930s it had become apparent to behaviorists that environmental stimuli were much more important. More recently, cognitive and evolutionary psychologists have started to revisit instincts as these do not have to be expressed at birth.

How Do Emotions Effect Motivation

Now while our motivation can be driven by our instincts alone, our emotions are much more powerful and can override those instincts that we rely on to impress our boss on daily basis, and climb the corporate ladder. Even the most focused individuals can be overcome by emotions if these are strong enough. We all recognize certain emotions: anger, joy, sadness; but sometimes these can be hard to define. Emotions are temporary and can make us feel either good or bad and we cannot choose how we feel for ourselves.

Emotions prepare us to react, for example, if we are scared the adrenaline starts to pump around our body which tells us to run. We also learn how to respond to others and if we are aware of their emotions, it can give us some guidance as to how they are going to act in any given situation.

If you are feeling tired, you will not normally be motivated to do something, even if it’s something you enjoy or if it is an urgent task. Alternatively, if you want to do something, then neither illness nor feelings of unhappiness will get in your way as you convince yourself that you should do it. Your motivation to do the task will help you overcome the feeling that you’re not able to carry it out.

Motivation can also be described as determination, and while we might not always have these in abundance for certain tasks, for example, ironing, or cleaning the bathroom; it is possible to overcome the negative emotions evoked by doing distasteful jobs by promising yourself a reward.

Ways in which we can focus on jobs that need to be done include:

  • Listening to loud music as you are cleaning or vacuuming. Yes, housework is a dirty job but someone’s got to do it! You might as well do it listening to music that makes you feel happy and has you dancing around while you’re dusting.
  • Iron while watching your favorite television show. I remember my mum always did the ironing while watching Dallas and it got to the point where she was on autopilot as she watched the show and the ironing did itself.Need to work overtime for your boss to finish auditing a particular file? Nobody likes putting in overtime, whether it’s paid or unpaid, but it gives you an incentive to make sure that your files are fully compliant for next year; and if all else fails promise yourself a fantastic reward like a good holiday!
  • Business meeting planned and you’ve just received some bad news. We’ve all had moments where we have been pole-axed by events overtaking us.

Motivation and Emotion

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