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Motivation vs Inspiration

By Kenneth James Michael MacLean

I was listening to a lecture by Dr. Wayne Dyer the other day. Dr. Dyer said "I don't think it's really possible to motivate another human being..." I began to think about that and I believe Dr. Dyer is correct. I believe that there is a subtle and powerful distinction between motivation and inspiration.

Motivation occurs when someone else persuades, cajoles, or coerces you into doing something. The company has a new customer relations policy which states "All employees, when answering the phone, must give the new sales pitch before identifying themselves and taking the customer's question. The motivation is two-fold: Failure to do so generates a less than favorable evaluation during the next employee assessment period. Increased sales, however, will lead to greater profit sharing amongst all employees."

Motivation can also happen on the reflexive flow, or self-to-self. "Somehow I have to get myself motivated at work," a friend of mine said. "I need to get myself motivated to exercise," my wife remarked last week.

Usually, motivation requires a kick in the butt from self or another, in order to reach a stated goal. But how often are these goals actually attained? How effective is motivation along the road to manifestation?

In politics, motivation is enforced by law. If you don't pay your traffic ticket, your drivers license is suspended. Failure to pay your taxes results in a judgment against you, fines, and even jail. A cursory look at our society shows us that motivation by punishment doesn't really prevent law breaking. And that is because such motivation is fear based, and very low on the emotional/vibrational scale. The higher, universal law of 'like attracts like' assures us that such "solutions" will just create more problems, which then need more laws, which then result in more problems... we soon reach a point where there are so many laws, and so many new laws passed, that Congress doesn't even have time to read them! (In fact that is what occurs. Congress never reads the laws it passes).

Self-motivation is a little better, because it involves more free choice. If you are tired of being overweight, then more exercise and a better diet is a positive step in the right direction. What usually happens with self-motivation is that we begin with good intentions, and lose interest before very long.

Inspiration is a completely different animal, however. Inspiration is entirely self-generated, and comes from within. It results in a feeling of excitement and well being, and a desire to get into action immediately. When I wrote Dialogues: Conversations with my Higher Self, for example, I'd wake up every morning fired up. I couldn't wait to come home from work and get in front of the keyboard. I'd sit and write well past midnight because I just didn't want to stop!

You might say that inspiration isn't really possible in the mundane, workaday world. Going to work, paying the bills, taking the kids to school, making meals and doing the laundry and shopping aren't exactly activities to inspire anyone. But ask yourself, "Why don't I have an inspired life?" "Why aren't I passionate about my life?" If you examine your life you'll see that the things you don't like doing NEVER come from inspired decisions! An element of "now I have to" or "now I'm supposed to" was, and is, always involved. "Yes, but I have to pay the bills! I have to go to work!" you might say. Well, maybe so. But why must these activities be less than exciting? The answer is that the state of being with which you created your job, and with which you continue to create your job, is not self-inspired! There are innumerable reasons why your life has to be the way it is. To the degree that these reasons have not been mindfully and consciously chosen, your experience will be less than enjoyable.

In the mathematics of fractals, the initial conditions are set up and then the fractal is generated from a repeating series of statements that feed into one another. A fractal is extremely sensitive to changes in the initial statement. When the first statement is altered even slightly, an entirely new fractal will result. Life is often the same way. Your initial decision or intention guides your actions and the way you feel, until another decision or intention is made. In the physical universe we know this as Newton's first law of motion: an object will continue along the same path until it is influenced by another force.

Like a fractal, a re-examination of your life in a mindful way can lead to an entirely new way to look at your job, your family, or your relationships. It can also lead to new decisions and new intentions, ones based upon inspiration!

The difference between motivation and inspiration is very subtle, but also very powerful. One is based on persuasion or coercion and often seems forced upon us, the other proceeds from conscious decision making and a connection to a higher, more beautiful aspect of ourselves. In order to see that aspect, however, one must first acknowledge and link to it. That is not as hard to do as you think!

Exercise:

  1. Write down an area of life that is not going as well as you'd like.

  2. Examine your thoughts and your beliefs in this area. Write them down without editing or trying to make yourself look good.

  3. Examine your list and decide if there is any way you could change these thoughts in a more positive direction.

  4. Do 3) until you feel inspired. Don't try to force it, just let it come!
If you can successfully complete this exercise on just one area of your life, you will not only find yourself looking at this area differently, but might even discover an entirely new, and inspiring, direction for your life.


One of the most cherished myths in our society is that change, and power, rests with the authorities. It is demonstrable, however, that governments and authority figures spend most of their time resisting change. Look around at our planet. Do you see prosperous, happy societies or struggling ones? Action follows thought, therefore, there is something wrong with humanity's belief systems! If nothing changes, we will continue to experience scarcity and conflict in the new millennium, just as we have for the past 5,000 years.

Look at your own life. How many of the goals you have set for yourself have you actually accomplished? If you're not seeing progress, then you have beliefs that are holding you back!

The universe has been designed to support your choices and empower you. The universe is not cold and uncaring, it is logical. If you want to change your life, you have to understand how it works!

A New Paradigm of Thought is an 8 eBook package by Kenneth James Michael MacLean that explains universal principles that have been known for thousands of years in clear, common sense language. It describes a new set of beliefs that, if acted upon, can change your life, and will change the world.

More personal development articles at the Counterpoint Article Library

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