100 Ways to Motivate Yourself : Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler, chapter name 18-21 Don't just do something...sit there, Use your brain chemicals, Leave high school forever, Learn to lose your cool

18-21 Don't just do something...sit there, Use your brain chemicals, Leave high school forever, Learn to lose your cool

18. Don't just do something...sit there

For a long time, all by yourself, sit quietly, absolutely alone. Completely relax. Don't allow the television or music to be on. Just be with yourself. Watch for what happens. Feel your sense of belonging to the silence. Observe insights starting to appear. Observe your relationship with yourself starting to get better and softer and more comfortable. Sitting quietly allows your true dream life to give you hints and flashes of motivation. In this information-rich, interactive, civilized life today, you are either living your dream or living someone else's. And unless you give your own dream the time and space it needs to formulate itself, you'll spend the better part of your life simply helping others make their dreams come true.

"All of man's troubles," said Blaise Pascal, "stem from his inability to sit alone, quietly, in a room for any length of time."

Notice that he did not say some of man's troubles, but all.

Sometimes, in my seminars on motivation, a person will ask me, "Why is it that I get my best ideas when I'm in the shower?"

I usually ask the person, "When else during your day are you alone with yourself, without any distractions?" If the person is honest, the answer is never.

Great ideas come to us in the shower when it's the only time in the day when we're completely alone. No television, no movies, no traffic, no radio, no family, no talkative pets—nothing to distract our mind from conversing with itself.

"Thinking," said Plato, "is the soul talking to itself."

People worry they will die of boredom or fear if they are alone for any length of time. Other people have become so distraction-addicted that they would consider sitting alone by themselves like being in a sensorydeprivation tank.

The truth is that the only real motivation we ever experience is self-motivation that comes from within. And being alone with ourselves will always give us motivating ideas if we stay with the process long enough.

The best way to truly understand the world is to remove yourself from it. Psychic entropy—the seesaw mood swing between boredom and anxiety—occurs when you allow yourself to become confused by massive input. By being perpetually busy, glued to your cell phone, out in  the world all day with no time to reflect, you will guarantee yourself an eventual overwhelming sense of confusion.

The cure is simple and painless. The process is uncomplicated. "You do not need to leave your room," said Franz Kafka. "Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen. Simply wait. Do not even wait. Be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." In other words, don't just do something...sit there.

19. Use your brain chemicals

There are drugs that you can use to motivate yourself with and I'm not talking about amphetamine or crack (a deadly form of child's play). Instead, you can get into those energizing chemicals in your system that get activated when you laugh...or sing...or dance...or run...or hug someone. When you're having fun, your body chemistry changes and you get new biochemical surges of motivation and energy.

And there isn't anything you do that can't be transformed into something interesting and uplifting. Victor Frankl has written startling accounts of his life in the Nazi concentration camps, and how some prisoners created new universes unto themselves inside their own minds. It might sound absurd, but truly imaginative people can access their inner chemical creativity in the loneliness of a prison cell.

Don't keep trying to go outside yourself searching for something that's fun. It's not out there anywhere. It's inside. The opportunity for fun is in your own energy system—your synergy of heart and mind. That's where you'll find it.

Pro football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton recommends looking at any task you do as fun.

"If it's not fun," he says, "you're not doing it right."

People who get high on marijuana often find they can laugh at anything. The problem with them is that they think this kind of "fun" is inherent in the marijuana. It's not. The capacity for fun was already there inside of them. The marijuana just artificially opened them up to it. But the physical and psychological price paid for such a drugged opening is not worth the high. (I wish I didn't know this first hand, but I do.) The price drug users pay is this: Their self-esteem suffers because they didn't create the fun they had—they thought the drugs did it for them. So they keep shrinking, the more they use, into greater paranoia and self-disgust. Soon they're using the drug just to feel normal.

William Burroughs, a former drug addict and author of Naked Lunch, discovered something that was very interesting and bitterly amusing to him after finally recovering from his addictions.

"There isn't any feeling you can get on drugs," he said "that you can't get without drugs."

Make a commitment to yourself to find the natural highs you need to stay motivated. Start by finding out what it does to your mood and energy to laugh, to sing, to dance, to walk, to run, to hug someone, or to get something done.

Then support your experiments by telling yourself that you're not interested in doing anything that isn't fun. If you can't immediately see the fun in something, find a way to create it. Once you have made a task fun, you have solved the problem of self-motivation.

20. Leave high school forever

Most of us feel like we've been left stranded in high school forever. Like something happened there that we've never shaken off. Before high school, in our earlier and more carefree childhoods, we were creative dreamers filled with a boundless sense of energy and wonder.

But in high school something got turned around. For the first time in our lives, we began fearing what other people were thinking of us. All of a sudden our mission in life became not to be embarrassed. We were afraid to look bad, and so we made it a point not to take risks. I'll never forget something that happened to my friend, Richard Schwarze, in high school. (He is now a respected photographer, and I won't need to ask his permission to tell this story about him.) Richard and I were walking home from school one day and all of a sudden he stopped in his tracks, his face frozen with horror. I looked at him and asked what was wrong. I thought he was about to suffer some kind of seizure. He then pointed down at his pants and wordlessly showed me where his belt had missed a loop!

"I spent the whole day like this!" he finally said. It was impossible for him to measure what everybody thought of him as they passed him in the halls, perhaps seeing the belt had missed a loop. The damage to his reputation was probably beyond repair.

That was high school.

Today when I give my seminars on motivation, I love the periods when I take questions from the audience. But many times I can see the painfully adolescent looks of self-consciousness on people's faces when they ponder the risk of asking a question in front of the group.

This habit of worrying more about what others think of our thoughts than we do about our own thinking usually begins in high school, but it can last a lifetime.

It is time to be aware of what we're doing and, once again, leave high school. It's time to reach back to those pre-high-school days of innocent creativity and social fearlessness, and draw on that former self. By the way, I finally came up with a way to deal with the moments of silence that fill a seminar room when I ask for questions. I go to the board and make five circles. Then I tell the audience that I used to say in my classes, "If there are no questions at this point, we'll take a break." People always want to take a break, so there wasn't much incentive for asking questions. But questions are the most fun part of a seminar for me, so I came up with this game: After five questions—we take a break. Now I find people in the audience urging people around them to join in asking questions so we can take our break sooner. Although it's an amusing artificial way to jump-start the dialogue I'm looking for, what it really does is take the pressure off. It takes the participants out of high school.

Most people don't realize how easily they can create the social fearlessness they want to have. Instead, they live like they are still teenagers, reacting to the imagined judgments of other people. They end up designing their lives based on what other people might be thinking about them. A life designed by a teenager! Would you want one? But you can leave that mind-set behind. You can motivate yourself by yourself, without depending on the opinions of others. All it takes is a simple question. As Emerson asked, "Why should the way I feel depend on the thoughts in someone else's head?"

21. Learn to lose your cool

You can create a self that doesn't care that much about what people think. You can motivate yourself by leaving the painful self-consciousness of high school behind.

Because our tendency is to go so far in the timid, non-assertive direction, it might be a profitable over-correction to adopt these internal commands: Look bad. Take a risk. Lose face. Be yourself. Share yourself with someone. Open up. Be vulnerable. Be human. Leave your comfort zone. Get honest. Experience the fear. Do it anyway.

"Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad," said actor Rene Auberjonois,

"and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time."

The first time that I ever spoke to author and psychotherapist Devers Branden it was over the telephone, and she agreed to work with me on building my own self-confidence and personal growth. It wasn't long into the phone conversation before she asked me about my voice. "I am very interested in your voice," she said, with a tone of curiosity. Hoping she might be ready to give me a compliment I asked her to explain.

"Well," she said. "It's so lifeless. A real monotone. I wonder why that is."

Embarrassed, I had no explanation. This conversation took place long before I had become a professional speaker, and it was also long before I ever took any acting lessons. It was long before I learned to sing in my car, too. Yet I was completely unaware and very surprised that it seemed to her that I was coming across with a voice like someone out of Night of the Living Dead.

The truth was that during that period in my life, I was living scared. Things weren't going well for me financially, I had serious health problems in my family, and I had that mildly suicidal feeling that accompanies an increasing sense of powerlessness over one's problems. (I now think one way a lot of men hide their fears is by assuming a macho kind of dull indifference. I know now that's what I had done. That a psychotherapist could hear it immediately in my voice was unnerving, though.)

Trying to understand why I covered fear with indifference, I remembered that back in my high school the "cool" guys were always the least enthusiastic guys. They spoke in monotones, emulating their heroes James Dean and Marlon Brando. Brando was the coolest of all. He was so indifferent and unenthusiastic you couldn't even understand him when he spoke.

One of the first homework assignments Devers Branden gave me was to rent the video Gone with the Wind and study how fearlessly Clark Gable revealed his female side. This sounded weird to me. Gable a female? I knew Gable was always considered a true "man's man" in all those old movies, so I couldn't understand what Devers was talking about, or how it would help me.

But when I watched the movie, it became strangely clear. Clark Gable allowed himself such a huge emotional range of expression, that I could actually identify scenes where he was revealing a distinctly female side to his character's personality. Did it make him less manly? No.

Curiously, it made him more real, and more compelling.

From that time on, I lost my desire to hide myself behind an indifferent monotonous person. I committed myself to get on the road to creating a self that included a wider range of expression, without a nervous preoccupation with coming off like a man's man.

I also started noticing how much we seem to love vulnerability in others but don't trust it in ourselves.

But we can learn to trust it!

Just a little at first. Then we can build that vulnerability until we're not afraid to open up into an ever-widening spectrum of self-revelation. By losing face, we connect to the real excitement of life. And what if I don't always come off as an indifferent man's man? Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.