Are you motivated by fear, desire, duty, or love? At one point or another in life, you’ve likely experienced all four motivations. According to Chapter 4 of Jay Shetty’s book, Think Like a Monk, these motivations are what drive everything we do. Exploring our motivations and learning how to use them is an important part of living intentionally.


Motivation 1:  Fear

Fear is a powerful motivation, but it’s not sustainable. People cannot build their lives on fear alone. Fear drives us to make choices that we believe will bring us security and safety, and that’s not always a bad thing. Fear can keep us out of harm’s way when danger arises and push us to take action when we’d normally refuse to move. 

Operating in fear for too long, however, can be damaging. Fear distracts and keeps people from working to the best of their abilities. It’s also hard to see the positive things in life when you’re so worried and focused on avoiding fear. Ultimately, it leads to burnout and stress. 


Motivation 2:  Desire

Desire is a tricky motivator. People want success, and an outward sign of that is material things. In chapter 4, Jay Shetty says the idea that success equals happiness is just an illusion. Many successful people are not happy at the end of the day. Even rich and famous celebrities – those who are considered the pinnacle of success – are usually plagued with relationship problems or addictions. 

We live in the illusion that happiness comes from external sources or measures of success. This leads to disappointment when someone gets what they want, but they still aren’t happy. The truth is, material success is only a facade or illusion. The search is never for the thing that we want, but the feeling we think we will get when we have the thing. 

“Happiness and fulfillment come only from mastering the mind and connecting with the soul—not from objects or attainments,” wrote Jay Shetty. “Success doesn’t guarantee happiness, and happiness doesn’t require success.”


Motivations 3 & 4:  Duty and Love

Duty and love are the two strongest motivators, and they’re felt universally. We all have different goals, but we all want the same thing – a life full of joy and meaning. Speaking from experience, Jay Shetty says that monks look for the satisfaction of living a meaningful life. 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. 

“Happiness can be elusive—it’s hard to sustain a high level of joy,” Jay Shetty wrote. “But to feel meaning shows that our actions have purpose. They lead to a worthwhile outcome.”

We can always find meaning and purpose in how we move through life’s challenges. We can survive the worst tragedies by looking for meaning in the loss. Purpose and meaning lead to true contentment. 

Want to learn more about these four motivations and how to use them to dig deep and find your true intentions? Grab your copy of Think Like a Monk, available on pre-order now.

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