Acting on what really matters to you is the antidote to burnout. TNS.
As the world continues to adjust to a 'new normal' situation brought on by the COVID-19 virus, finding motivation to carry out even the simplest of tasks is proving to be difficult for many.
What initially seemed like a much-required respite from the everyday grind is soon getting to the strongest of individuals who long to free from the shackles of coronavirus that bind them.
There remains no doubt that we have paid attention to long-neglected chores like ridding closets of clothes that no longer fit, reorganising drawers and emptying pantries and refrigerators of forgotten foodstuff.
Some of us have even emerged out of the pandemic channelizing our inner chefs and artists and dedicating more time to our dormant hobbies.
But as the weeks morph into months with no clear end in sight, the ennui of Covid-induced isolation can undermine enthusiasm for such activities, however rewarding they may seem.
For some, even working out can seem daunting when preferred activities like swimming or spin classes are no longer accessible.
But motivation can change that and it's all a matter of finding it.
When individuals engage in generous and altruistic behaviour, they activate circuits in the brain that foster wellbeing. TNS.
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of "Emotional Intelligence" explains that there are two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation refers to acts done to receive an external reward or outcome like wealth, power or fame, or in some cases to avoid punishment.
Intrinsic motivation involves behaviours that are done for their own sake and are personally rewarding, like helping other people, participating in an enjoyable sport or studying a fascinating subject.
With intrinsic motivation, inspiration comes from within a person. It tends to be more forceful and the results more fulfilling.
“The stay-at-home edict has pushed so many of us into an external motivation mode that is making us face something that feels like lethargy and meaninglessness,” Goleman says.
“At the same time,” he adds, “It’s a ripe opportunity to think about what really matters to us.” He cites the inspiring outlook of legendary Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E Frankl, who survived four years in Nazi concentration camps sustained by a deep sense of purpose.
Frankl’s rediscovered masterpiece, "Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything," just published in English, offers a path to finding hope even in these dark times.
It urges people to reflect on what really matters to them and search for ways to act on what is most meaningful.
“Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout,” says Goleman, who wrote the introduction to Frankl’s book.
He suggests to those who are feeling bereft of motivation: “Face what’s happening. What does it mean to me? What really matters to me now? Is there a way I can act upon what’s meaningful to me?”
Dr Vivek H Murthy, former surgeon general of the United States and author of the recently published book "Together," explained this month on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on public radio: “Our fundamental worth is intrinsic. It’s based on kindness, compassion and generosity, the ability to give and receive love.
“Service to others has a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves as well as on how it makes others feel. There are many opportunities to serve, to switch our focus from ourselves to others.”
Richard J Davidson, professor of psychology and neuroscientist at the Centre for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has demonstrated that “when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behaviour, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering wellbeing.”
In other words, caring for other people can be its own reward.
So in essence what this means is that even more important than personal tasks, you should think about what you could do for other people within the constraints of social distancing or lockdown.
If you can, contribute money to efforts to get more food to people who don’t have enough to eat as well as to our essential workers or donate to a charity dealing with distribution of PPE equipment.
This small act of kindness could be just the motivation you are seeking.
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