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Motivational Blogs Are Bull — But Do They Work?

“Ommmmm svasti prajabhyah paripalayantam nyayena margena mahim mahishah”

When I first started taking Yoga classes I was admittedly the one rolling my eyes during the Sanskrit chants. Having grown up in a household that never went to church or practiced anything remotely spiritual, it all sounded like hullabaloo to me. I was only going to Yoga for the workout and flexibility gains — not to “cleanse my mind”.

I eventually got over myself and started to participate in opening and closing chants. I realized that out of respect for the Yoga teacher who has dedicate years of her life to the craft I should stop being the smug atheist in the corner and at least be a team player. Much to my surprise, I started to see a difference in the way I felt after classes. While I was still physically sore, there was now an additional feeling of positivity in my mind. It also seemed to make me more social and inviting to the other class participates, some who I now consider good friends.

Do I believe I had a spiritual awakening from a fitness class? No. What I do believe, however, is that the positivity placebo effect is real and there is immense value in keeping an open mind. This brings me to the main point — Motivational speakers, blogs and books are (for the most part) total baloney. However, I still believe they can be used as a tool to better ourselves.

Motivational material is naturally written from the perspective of the writer. These are usually methods that have worked for them in their lives. The remaining contents creator are the ones who make up inspirational stories with the goal of gaining clicks and hopefully turning a profit. Is wanting to turn a profit by promising people better lives an inherently a bad thing? If readers feel that they are bettering themselves based on advice from someone who writes fiction all day, where’s the harm?

What makes you qualified to motivate me?

There are an infinite number of sources you can find for motivational advice. There are whole sections in the bookstore dedicated to selling you on a diet or a fitness regime. Bloggers will promise to double your productivity if only you follow their 12 step guide to hacking your sleep schedule.

It is strange when you stop to think about it. Why exactly am I taking advice from a yuppie 20 something on YouTube? Am I really going to change my way of life based on a advertisement I came across on Facebook? For all I know these people are just as clueless as I am.

Therein lies the key. Motivational speakers and writers have not found Jack’s magic beans — they have simply tried things until they found something that works for them. You can use this to your advantage. You don’t have to waste your time trying to develop methods to help you wake up earlier; you have a laundry list of tactics at your fingertips.

Don’t waste time trying to find the optimal route to your goals. Try as many as you can until something sticks. When it comes to setting and achieving goals, we can become so engulfed in trying to find the best way to achieve our goals that we never actually start. Take that YouTuber’s advice and have a 5 minute freezing cold shower in the morning once or twice and see what happens. At worst you spent a few uncomfortable minutes groggily wondering what the heck is it you’re trying to accomplish, or at best you’d discovered your new way of feeling refreshed all morning.

All things considered, not terrible advice.

A Final Word of Caution and Positivity

There are absolutely people out there looking to take advantage of people trying to better themselves. Buying thousands of dollars worth of crystals from Gwyneth Paltrow is likely not going to have a net positive on anyone’s life. However, if someone finds serenity in rubbing together some interesting crystals they found at a flea market for $5, they should absolutely do so.

So go on, suspend your disbelief for a short while, drink some coconut water and read some inspirational quotes — You might just find your new motivation.

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