Does Positivity Make You Unmotivated and Complacent?

 In Better Life, Focusing on the positive

When I first learned of Positive Psychology and this entire science of how we can become more positive, I remember wondering how it might impact a person’s motivation to get ahead. After all, if I’m grateful for all that I have, and I’m spending more time feeling contented and satisfied, wouldn’t that undermine my desire for wanting more in my life? Like more money? Greater achievement? Nicer things?

This was also a question I’ve been asked by a couple of audience members. During my early talks, I didn’t know how to answer. One enthusiastic person of German heritage pointed out that Germans made great contributions in the area of innovation because they weren’t satisfied with the status quo. He commented that people from his country weren’t focused on happiness but on how to make “stuff” better.

As I’ve continued to learn, teach, and apply these concepts, it’s become clear to me that wanting more in life doesn’t have to originate from a negative mindset. It’s about being both grateful for what you have and being excited about getting more, accomplishing more, and making progress.

It’s finding a balance between contentment with the current moment and enthusiasm for more in the future. 

When I feel frustrated because of something I wish I had, I try to channel that negative energy into eagerness and motivation for how I might get to where I want to be or what I want to have. I’ve found that when I can use my feelings of wanting more to increase my enthusiasm and gratitude for possibilities, it shifts my thinking so I don’t get stuck in a negative mindset. As I practice this strategy, I notice that it not only puts me in a better mood, it also helps me come up with new ideas. Studies show that when we are in a positive emotion, we actually see more information and possibilities and feel more motivated. 

Try it for yourself. How could you channel your wish for something more into motivation and enthusiasm instead of focusing on the negative feeling of not having it?

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