(Stillness in the Storm Editor) This is a short yet inspiring piece by Jon Rappoport about developing happiness in our world of confusion and darkness. We are programmed to think happiness is a goal, that we need something outside of ourselves to achieve it. We are told that happiness is financial success, that it can be bought with money, and that if we don’t have the acceptance of our fellows, we shouldn’t be happy. But what if happiness was more simple? What if happiness isn’t the goal but a method or way of living life?
Consider that reality from an objective point of view is devoid of subjectivity—that is to say, things outside of us can’t make us happy, we have to choose or generate happiness from within. But it isn’t as simple as saying the words “I am happy.” Often we must imagine and use the power of visualization to imbue happiness onto events in life. The secret to applying happiness as the way is intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.
When we do things for approval from others, this is an extrinsic motivation. But when we do things because we want to do them, because we find joy in the simple act of doing something, this is intrinsic motivation. To the child who is forced to practice piano to please their parents, they loathe and hate playing. To the child that practices because they enjoy improving their skills and hearing what they can create, it is a joy. Thus, the key to happiness as a way of living life is to find intrinsic reasons and value for doing the things we do.
Extrinsic motivations are a carrot on a stick, always beyond the now and our reach‚ in the future and elusive. Intrinsic motivations do their work in the present, enriching and enhancing the moment, drawing us into it fully.
The best performers and athletes are intrinsically motivated. They don’t play because they want prestige or the approval of others, they play because they love to do it, and the act of doing so is the reward itself. Intrinsic motivations come naturally to young children, and through social conditioning, extrinsic motivations are forced on to us. By the time we become adults, the savor of intrinsic motivation is lost, but not forever. The course of one’s life can always be altered if we can find the courage to change our habits and embrace a new (or old) way of being. Hence, to become childlike, in this sense, is to find joy in doing things in the moment, to rekindle the fire of intrinsic motivation, a pathway towards inspiration.