Emerson “A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”
Dehydration occurs when you have lost too much water before you replace it and demotivation can occur when we don’t consume quality sources of motivation on a regular basis. Both of these states can have a detrimental effect on the mind and body. I dehydrate extremely quickly because of the ileostomy I’ve had for 25 years. And I also demotivate extremely quickly as well because of my chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and the complications from multiple surgeries of the past. Drinking plenty of water and daily consuming high quality sources of motivation to provide my brain this vital neural nutrient are both required for me to live better today.
For me motivation consists of two things: Hope and an example. Currently I’m filling my daily recommended intake of motivation with three sources: Emerson’s Essays, The Documentary “Tim’s Vermeer” and the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Even though these three sources of motivation seem disparate and are delivered in different forms (the written word for Emerson, Moving Pictures for “Tim’s Vermeer”, and the spoken word with “The Joe Rogan Experience”), they all provide me with the motivation that I need throughout the day.
The Essay’s of Emerson are full of hope. Currently I’m reading his essays in a collection called “The Spiritual Emerson”. The professor who wrote the introduction, relates how his students responded to Emerson when reading his works for the first time. They were excited to be reading Emerson, and the reason they gave was, because it gave them hope. That is an essential element for human beings. We need to consume external sources of motivation that contain the essential element of hope everyday. In his essay “Self-Reliance” he urges us all to follow our own path and not to submit to what others want for us. In “Compensation” he explains how when humans work, there is a law of compensation that even if it’s not readily perceived, virtuous action is itself a reward. And along with hope, Emerson is an amazing example as well. He charted his own path during a time when the vast majority of people in this country were diametrically opposed to how he thought.
Another source of hope and example I’ve been feeding upon lately is the wonderful documentary, “Tim’s Vermeer”. It’s a film by Penn and Teller who follow from conception to completion, their friend Tim’s obsession with figuring out how the Renaissance painter Vermeer could paint so realistically, and in particular how he painted his famous painting “The Music Lesson”. Tim had a hunch that Vermeer used an optical device that used mirrors and he set out to see if he could recreate his process. Tim actually rebuilt Vermeer’s workshop in a warehouse in Texas and created in excruciating detail The Music Lesson’s scene and he did most of the work himself. But in the end (spoiler alert), Tim was able to recreate “The Music Lesson” using the optical device he created using materials that were available during Vermeer’s time. Absolutely incredible. It took him over a year.
Tim’s example of dedication to discover and then recreate the Vermeer is absolutely amazing. And this example gives me hope. What is great about a quality source of motivation like this, is that it isn’t consumed inside the brain. As long as I recall the film, I am able to restock my tank of motivation from inside my own mind any time I’m running low. That’s why I prefer to consume only high quality sources of motivation. They persist.
The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast combines the two elements of motivation, hope and example, better than any source I’ve discovered yet. In every episode I’m able to find motivation from him and his guests that help to refill my motivation tank. The reason why I am a huge fan is that he is a sincere guy who seeks excellence in his own life, whether its his stand up comedy, jujitsu, his health and fitness or commentating for the UFC. He has a commitment to excellence but still enjoys life, is silly with his friends and can still carry on an enlightening conversation with neuroscientists, rock stars and medical doctors. His example of empathy, intelligence and persistence is built upon his actions. And he is also a purveyor of hope. For example, he has helped many of his friends and guests start their own podcasts. He tells them “If I can do it you can too, I’ll help you.” In a few days his friend or guest will have a podcast up and running. The reason why I’m starting up my podcast “Chronically Human” is because of the hope and example he’s provided for me, without even knowing who I am.
When I’m dehydrated I don’t clearly and my body is sluggish. The same thing happens when I don’t consume my daily requirement of motivation. We breath, drink, eat and consume motivation so we can act. By consistently refilling my motivation tank, I’m able to close the gap between thought and action. And when I’m able to do this consistently I can become a motivation to others, and that’s my way of ensuring that this essential neural nutrient containing hope and example, are plentiful and growing in the world.
Along with my daily dose of external motivation, I also create internally my own motivation by remembering my past actions in which I persisted, in which I overcame, and in which I helped someone else do the same. My internal source of motivation is still limited and I’m working on relying on this more and more. Just like I only have so much water in my body at the moment, I only have so much motivation as well. When I’m dehydrated or demotivated I don’t enjoy life, my mind is cloudy and the lag between thought and action becomes so large that I end up accomplishing very little. I have to tell myself drink more water and consume more sources of motivation and both help me to overcome the resistance to act.
“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” Emerson