December 21, 2012 by
Categories: Emotions, Human

Not too long ago I was involved in a discussion about what motivates us. General answers were given such as wanting to help others, desires to be a good person, a sense of responsibility. I think all of these are good answers, but as I thought about it, I don’t think one of our primary motivations for doing things were mentioned: avoiding guilt.

I’ll admit that there was a time when my primary motivation for doing certain things was to avoid feeling guilt, or I was already feeling guilty and wanted to get rid of it. In a lot of ways, our culture supports this method of motivation. How many times have we found ourselves saying, “I better do __________ or else __________.”? Now, I’m not saying that everything we do is based on guilt, but for you, what percentage of what you do is?

Image by vancity197

Image by vancity197

In my journey, I’ve reached a point where enough is enough. I’ve made a decision that when I do something, I want it based out of love–either for another person or for the action itself. For some of the things that I do, I’ve really had to search down deep and redefine ideas, beliefs, and philosophies. When I do this, sometimes I can find motivation based on love. If I just can’t, I’ll admit that sometimes I do default to doing it out of guilt, but sometimes I find myself not doing it, guilt-free. I work because I love my family and what I do. I help a friend move because I love them and want to serve them. I go and visit someone because I care about them and want to make sure they are doing well.

All of that being said, it’s important to point out that I don’t necessarily wait around for a strong feeling of love to do things. It’s beyond the scope of this post to define love, but part of it is certainly a commitment. If I have that commitment to someone or something, then my motivation is already there.

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