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A simple google search of the word “motivation” yields two definitions:

  1. the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

  2. the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

The reasons somebody has for behaving in a certain way are up to them to decide. I think that definition of motivation falls along the lines of meaning/purpose, which everybody’s gotta figure out for themselves (good luck!).

The second definition, however, is something I find to be more universally applicable and less of a personal thing. It’s that sliding scale of an internal drive factor that varies from person to person. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot these past few days and have been wanting to write about.

Why are some people more motivated than others? Why are some people endlessly driven while others just… aren’t?

These questions drive me nuts and they have since I was little. I’ve always felt like a driven person and I sometimes become frustrated if I’m surrounded by people who aren’t the same way. I try and figure out what the difference is between the two types of people, which is probably not great because I should just accept others for how they are. Maybe in 3 years when I am the perfect, amazing person I’d like to be (due to apple product that infuses perfection into humans via touchscreen), that can be my reality. Alas, that is not my current situation and all I can offer you is my current situation.


My current situation involves me being super curious about why some people are motivated and some people are lazy.

Is it a personality thing? A mood disorder thing? Is it seasonal? Is it dietary? Is it dependent on whether your childhood was good or terrible?

I don’t know if any of these questions are even answerable. I DO know, however, thanks to google and CrashCourse’s “The Power of Motivation” youtube video, that there are four basic theories of motivation, and they are as follows:

  1. Instinct theory. This theory assumes that biological/genetic makeup cause motivation, which means that all humans have the same bottom-line motivation: survival.

  2. Drive reduction theory. This theory states that deviations from homeostasis (layman’s terms aka my terms: basic human level of comfort) create physiological needs that create a psychological drive to behave in a way that moves toward homeostasis.

  3. Optimal arousal theory. This theory suggests that humans are motivated by arousal and their general behaviors will push them toward slightly elevated arousal (not exclusively sexual – get your mind out of the gutter!)

  4. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory is a five tier model of human needs displaying that some human needs take precedence over others. The bottom tiers are said to be deficiency needs, meaning that people are motivated to fill those needs if they are unmet. The higher tiers are self-fulfillment needs and they’re driven by a motivation for growth.

If I think about these four theories and apply them to my personal experiences, I’d say that optimal arousal is likely the biggest indicator of my motivation. I say this because I can think of instances where I’ve forsaken some pretty basic human needs in exchange for a more elevated level of arousal. I can also think of times where I haven’t necessarily been experiencing homeostasis, but I HAVE been experiencing some level of creativity or meaning that was more rewarding to me and subsequently more motivating to sustain.

I wonder if a person’s “driven” or “lazy” nature has to do with which theory of motivation they most relate to.

Does this make sense? What do you guys think? Which theory do you think most applies to your life?

I want to do some more posts on motivation in the future. In order to do that, it would be so helpful to hear about what motivates you. What drives you to do the things you do every day? What drives you to do the things you do more occasionally, the more challenging feats that you’ve accomplished? Think of whatever you’ve done in your life that you’re most proud of – what motivated you to do that thing?

Looking forward to your thoughts,


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