Everyone has plans and goals. It seems like we’re always striving towards something. In Chapter 4 of his new book, Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty breaks down the four main motivators that drive people and how our motivations reveal our true intentions.

At our core, we are all motivated by one of the four main motivators: fear, desire, duty, and love. To find out which one is motivating you at any giving moment, ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly:

  • What am I striving towards with these plans and goals?
  • What am I seeking through my choices?
  • Am I looking for a thrill, or safety and security?
  • Do I want to make an impact and live a life with purpose?

The four motivators can help paint a clearer picture of where we are in life now, where we want to go, and why. These motivations are what drive everything we do, but some of these motivations are stronger and more lasting than others. Jay Shetty writes that learning how to recognize these motivators and how they show up in your life is the key to living with more intention, impact, and positivity.

How do we make the four motivations work for us in our lives instead of feeling like we’re powerless against them? When we are able to understand what is motivating us and what needs we have, we can make specific choices to help us achieve our goals. Jay Shetty writes that studying what motivators drive us and what lies beneath them is critical to our development. Understanding our motivations helps us dial in on our why and find ways to practically achieve the goals we have. Some motivations are powerful and sustainable, while others are not. As we look at some of these motivators, why not take a look at some of your desires and aspirations and see how the motivators may fit in? Jay Shetty suggests we ask ourselves:

  • What do I want?
  • What am I looking for in life?
  • What makes me feel fulfilled?
  • What makes me excited about life?

When we understand what we are looking for and how our desires play into shaping our motivations, we can clearly see whether the path we are on is really serving who we are.

Motivators and Living Intentionally

Intentional living is any lifestyle that is based on your values and conscious beliefs and then lived out in accordance with those values and who you truly are. It is a way of thinking about your life in a purposeful and meaningful way.

Jay Shetty learned about intentional living during his days as a monk. As he began to question why he desired certain outcomes, he discovered that his motivators had much more to do with his desires and his ability to live intentionally than he’d first believed. Broken down to their simplest level, motivators answer the question, “Why?” Why does someone want to be a CEO?

  • Is it to make an impact?
  • To be rich and successful?
  • To be liked?

None of these answers are wrong, but they are different. When we can step back and look at why we want something, we are able to see what’s really driving that want.

Fear as a Motivator

We have discussed fear and how to use fear in a previous article, but now let’s look at fear as a motivator for doing or not doing something. Jay Shetty lists sickness, poverty, and death to name just a few of the ways fear sneaks in and messes with why we do what we do.

Fear is not a sustainable motivator. It only lasts for so long, and living with the weight of fear as a motivator is heavy. We cannot build our lives on motivations that are due to fear. When you think about fear as a motivator in our lives and look back on some of the results fear produced, did the outcome leave you feeling satisfied or happy? Fear drives us to make choices that we believe will bring us security and safety. Fear alerts and ignites us to make progress to meet these external expectations. When we operate in fear too long, we can’t work to the best of our abilities. Jay Shetty writes that when we operate in fear, we are too worried and focused on getting the wrong result that we fail to see the good in our lives. This ultimately leads to our burnout and further stress.

We are so focused on the bad outcome that we fail to look at what lessons are in the situation and alternative endings that we could create. We give our power over to the fear and let it hold us back and increase our negative feelings.

Desire as a Motivator

Desire is the motivator behind a yearning for material items or success. This motivator appears when we seek personal gratification through success, wealth, and pleasure. Desire is a motivator that is tricky as it is driven primarily by our want for material things. Does acquiring these material possessions really bring happiness, or are we tricking ourselves into thinking that this is what success looks like?

Our need for success is born out of desire. In Chapter 4, Jay Shetty talks about how most people would put success down as a goal. We are taught that success equals happiness. This is actually an illusion. Success as we think of it rarely means happiness. Many successful people are not happy at the end of the day. We see this with celebrities and others who are rich and famous. Even at the peak of their careers they are usually plagued with relationship problems or addictions. We live in the illusion that happiness comes from external sources or measures of success. Often, when someone gets what they want, it doesn’t lead to happiness. Material success is only a façade. Desire is not a sustainable motivator either, writes Jay Shetty. Our search is never for the thing we want, but the feeling we think we will get when we have the thing. Unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t last, and we’re already on our way to the next thing, and the next.

The fancy job title, raise, new flashy car, new computer--at the end of the day, you will still be craving that feeling. It can feel great in the moment, but it doesn’t really satisfy us. We just hope it will and we get stuck in this cycle until we see things break down. Desire as a motivator will break down over time as it, like fear, is unsustainable in the long-term. As Jay Shetty writes in Chapter 4, if fear limits us and desire or success doesn’t satisfy us, then we can guess that the last two motivators have more to offer. We will explore the last two motivators in more length.

Duty and Love are actually the two strongest motivators we have. Duty is the motivator of gratitude, responsibility, and the desire to do the right thing. Love is what motivates us out of our care for others and the urge to help them. These two motivators have more to offer than the other previous ones, writes Jay Shetty. We have different goals, but we all want the same thing - a life full of joy and meaning. These are two of the purest motivations that we as humans have. When you act out of duty or love, you know that you are providing value.

Jay Shetty learned this lesson firsthand from his time living as a monk. Monks look for the satisfaction of living a meaningful life - NOT happiness, as it can be elusive. Monks look for the value and purpose of what is happening. They seek ways they can add value and purpose to those around them. Monks believe that to feel meaning shows that actions have a purpose and lead to a worthwhile outcome. Monks believe they leave a positive imprint on their world. Life goes on with the mundane, day-to-day but we can always find meaning and purpose in how we move through life’s challenges. Jay Shetty writes that we can survive the worst tragedies by looking for meaning in the loss. Purpose and meaning lead to true contentment. Jay Shetty writes that when we identify what is motivating us and where that stems from, we are able to use this knowledge and make it work for ourselves. We can look at a desire and see if it is truly serving us or if it is merely serving as a distraction from who we really are.

These motivators are explored fully in Chapter 4 of Think Like a Monk, where Jay Shetty also teaches how these motivators tie in with living intentionally and the impact that can have on our lives. When we understand these motivators and how they work in our lives, we can use them to live intentionally. 

More From Think Like a Monk

Jay Shetty’s new book Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day will be available soon online and at all major book sellers. Preorder your copy today by visiting the website at https://thinklikeamonkbook.com/.

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