The 32 Elements of Health:
Element #21: Inspiration, Motivation, Purpose, and Commitment
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”— Pantanjali
The Reinforcement of Our House
Inspiration, motivation, purpose, and commitment ... like reinforcing pillars, they lead us to be guided and developed, nurtured and sustained, fulfilled and uplifted. Without these pillars, life would be a void, action would be robotic, and we would possess no sense of self-direction. All four of these pillars are interdependent and support each other: to maximize one, we must in turn incorporate the others into our lives. For our resolution to be unwavering as we choose the path of health, these pillars are of utmost import.
The word inspiration comes from the Latin word inspirare, which means “to breathe into” or “to breathe upon.” In ancient Roman times, to inspire came to mean “to breathe deeply,” but it also took on the meaning “to instill [something] into the heart or the mind of someone.” Inspiration was considered the breath of God, and it was perceived as flowing into people, instilling them with new reasons to live.
What this breath actually is physically, we do not know. We do know, however, that inspiration awakens our essential, primordial being. A source of hope, it can carry us from states of despair and self-doubt into states of steadfast resolve and persistence. We gather new reservoirs of strength, we transcend any physical pain or suffering, and we experience a sharp, renewing tingle through our bodies and upon our skin, as if our inner rust is being sanded off. Our energy moves inward, stirring the sleeping giant that characterizes our innermost soul.
When inspired, we unleash our fullest selves. Great feats of strength, creativity, courage, and endurance have been achieved by those who were inspired. To live with inspiration means to let this “breath of God” into our lives. For inspiration to come, we must perceive something to have great meaning and purpose to us.
If we want to be inspired to take extraordinary care of our health, we need to view healthful living as a priority so important that it becomes our most preferred way of living. Being active every day, getting our quota of sleep, eating foods that are nourishing to us, maximizing the quality of the relationships we experience, and all the other health-building elements, can become easy if we make our reasons for doing them convincing.
Start today to write a list of the reasons you have for living healthfully. You can make the list as far-fetched and ridiculous as you care, or you can make it something seriously compelling that you will look back on from time to time to keep you on your path. If our reasons for taking excellent care of ourselves are persuasive enough, we may eventually perceive that we have “no other choice.” With enough reason, health becomes our only logical option.
C’mon, Motivate Me
Motivation is a driver of our actions, and is the result of two primary things: perceived need, and knowledge. Knowledge refers to an understanding of the outcomes to be experienced as a result of our actions. And, “perceived need” boils down to the importance we attach to what we do. In other words, our perceived need can be determined by asking “For what reason(s) do I do what I am doing?” These two factors combine to produce motivation.
Think of the combination as an appeal to both the head (knowledge) and the heart (perceived need). When one is not present, it matters not how much of the other there is, for we will end up with insufficient motivation.
For example, severely sick people often have high need but insufficient knowledge. Such people, whose lifestyle choices can immediately and substantially affect the quantity and quality of their remaining days, have all the reasons in the world to live healthfully, so their perceived need is strong. Yet, without any knowledge about what comprises truly healthful living, they cannot muster motivation to take action.
As another example, if we wish to maintain our motivation for daily exercise, we’ve got to have clarity about the results we are obtaining (or not) by exercising, such as weight control, improved body image, sense of vigor and alertness, greater mental and emotional stability, enhanced cardiovascular health, etc. Secondly, we need to perceive that these results mean something to us. Just because we know the benefits of exercising does not mean we are going to take action. The results of exercise need to be important. They need to scream out to us. They need to be so strong that we wake up in the morning determined to make time for our daily exercise. Even if we have only one primary reason for exercising, that lone rationale can be all we need, if it is one that means a great deal to us.
More than three years ago, I wrote myself a list of all the reasons I could think of for eating in the manner of 80/10/10. The list quickly grew, and so did my resolve. Some of the reasons I came up with can be viewed online HERE. Eventually, I decided to stop writing any more down, as my goal had already been achieved.
What reasons can you come up with for living a healthier lifestyle? Begin your list with one item today and watch it grow!
As we saw above regarding motivation, we are more likely to do something consistently if it produces meaningful results. These results reflect its purpose. If we don’t recognize a purpose in what we are doing, we are very likely going to have no motivation for it, and thus quit doing it. We must be clear about our results, and let the desired ones draw us in. We are highly unlikely to hit a target that we don’t see, and that we are not aiming for.
We are spurred to visualize the end result by writing goals, aims, visions, strategic plans, mission statements, and the like, in present tense, as if they have already been achieved. By imagining our results have already been reached, we are impelled to envision the details of their reality. We can also cement purpose by putting up pictures of people whose bodies fit an ideal we would like to achieve, reading books by those we aspire to learn from or emulate, or listening to the words of those after whom we seek to model our habits. These can all be valuable means of sustaining our sense of purpose and direction, so that even when the “going gets tough,” we are tough enough to get going. With sufficient purpose, no obstacle can deter us.
Commit to Fly
To commit is to be resolute towards its achievement. Like motivation, commitment comes when the factors it depends on are provided together. To commit to reaching a goal, try taking the following steps:
- Fix your mind firmly upon the goal,
- Reaffirm confidence in yourself,
- Remove any barriers to taking the required action, then
- Make the required action part of your daily routine.
“Commitment”... This term has a unique power with regard to the fundamental elements of health... To be committed to our health, we need to keep in mind all of the health elements, have confidence in our ability to practice them, and follow through by working them into our lifestyle! By doing this, we can catapult ourselves to new heights in our health.I close with this moving quote by Goethe, which expresses the power that commitment can have in our lives:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth—the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans.
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”— Goethe
Written by a student in Dr. Graham’s 80/10/10 Certified Lifestyle Coach mentoring program.