Motivated by Fear or Love?

All of our actions are motivated by thoughts or emotions that prompt us to act.

I’ve learned that in every moment we’re being motivated by one end of the emotional spectrum or the other; everything is inspired by either love or fear.

It’s easy to see the difference when we look at extreme examples of each of these. If someone is holding a gun to my head then I’m clearly acting from fear. And if I smile and bend down to pick up a puppy then it’s clear that I’m acting from love.

But what about the less obvious cases?

Something as simple as going to the store for groceries can be motivated by fear:“I’m behind schedule and I need to go to the store now or we won’t have anything for dinner!”

Or motivated by love:

“I want to go to the store now so that when my boys come home hungry they’ll smile when they walk in the door and smell dinner already cooking.”

The resulting action is the same – I’m going to the store either way. But I’ve learned that if I pay attention to my motivating thoughts, and change them into positive, loving ones, my day is filled with so much more gratitude and happiness. And I didn’t have to change all the day’s events to bring about this happiness – what a relief!

It’s SO much easier to change your thoughts and feelings than to change all the circumstances. All that’s required is paying more attention.

Start noticing your reasoning. Stop each time you begin a new activity and ask yourself why you’re doing it. If your answer sounds like it’s coming from fear-based reasoning, see if you can re-frame your motivation. And if you can’t find a positive reason for doing what you’re about to do, consider holding off until you can.

Let’s use our trip to the grocery store as an example Last month I had gone to the grocery store three days within one week, and it was time to go again. Good grief, I thought in exasperation, feeding two boys and their friends can feel like I’m running a restaurant! I was getting ready to leave when I noticed my resentful attitude.

I sat down on my sofa and got determined to feel better about the grocery run. It took me a few minutes, but I finally came up with feeling appreciative that some people couldn’t buy food, and that others had to walk for miles to get food for their families. All I had to do was get in my car and drive less than a mile. And I knew that the grocery store would be filled with plenty of food and that I had enough money to buy what we needed. Ok! My attitude was readjusted, and I went from resenting a third grocery run to appreciating that I could accomplish getting food in less than 20 minutes. Ah, a much better feeling!

Shifting your emotional motivation can take effort, but it’s always worth it! Starting today, make it your intention to feel happier. Be determined to act from gratitude, appreciation and humility. And notice how much more often you’re smiling.

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