Ways to keep the motivation up

When you go through life feeling numb

“What makes you get up in the morning?”

A few of this posters were stuck at random walls all over the city I live in. Street philosophy, maybe, but it really made me wonder what would I answer to that question.

Do you ever feel that you cannot find the motivation to get out of bed? That you don’t have a reason to wake up in the mornings? That your life is lacking a purpose?

If those questions sound familiar, it means that, like me, you are or have been in a situation in which your life lacks structure, routine even; you find yourself in an uncertain moment of your life, dark and unfulfilled, you roam around numb, trying to find answers, the next step towards your future, while time seems to helplessly and inexorably slip through your fingers; day after day your life goes by, unchanged. That is the moment when the question clearly resonates in your head: waking up… for what?

Sometimes in our lives we all walk into a dead end, a period of doubts and fear, and we get lost in our ways.

When we feel off-track, it’s very common to look at other people and wonder “how do they do it?”. We tend to compare our lives with those of others, our misfortunes against the success of others… From our perspective, the rest of the people always have their lives figured out, ordered, focused… But this is not true at all.

Comparisons are hurtful and misleading. The same way you don’t openly show your feelings or thoughts, you can never know which inner battles those around you are fighting, however happy they might seem on the outside.

Rather than comparing ourselves to others, we should focus on our own lives and on what makes us happy and keep us motivated. We need to find that reason that gets us out of bed and into a day worth-living.

True, motivation does not always come easily and a struggle on our part is needed. Motivation does not necessarily come from within either, and only sometimes, looking at other people can be inspiring. In this case it is not about comparison, it is rather a search for hints that you might use to turn your wrongly-deemed-useless life into quality time.

This is why you need to put an “optimistic filter”. You need to filter everything you see through an optimistic lens so you can positively apply your findings to your personal experience and turn your despair into motivation.

So, how to do that? How to remain positive when life seems to have no meaning, your strength to abandon your bed in the mornings is nearly gone and every single day seems a monotonous compendium of nonsense and emptiness? Well, here are a few ideas that have served me throughout the years, and, in sharing them with you, I hope they will serve you too:

1. Life is beautiful


No matter how bad things are, in every bad, there is always a good side. You just need to look for it, really look for it, with all your will.

The beauty of life is all around you if you look with your eyes and heart open. Maybe it’s raining on an important day, but… doesn’t it make you feel alive to feel the tiny drops of water falling from the sky against your cheek? Or maybe you are having one of these days when everything that can go wrong goes absolutely wrong? Well, just sit, take a deep breath and look around. Take as much time as needed.

In appreciating the beauty around you, you might feel reassured in your conviction of a better tomorrow, even more beautiful than today.

2. Ask for help…

This is a classic advice. We are always told that, whenever we are in distress, we should ask for a helping hand. But not all of us feel comfortable asking for help, or sometimes we are not even sure who to ask. Who will be able to understand us? How to make sure they will empathise with our problem?

I used to be one of those people who never ever no matter what asked for help. I feared it, opening up about myself and my personal situation… I didn’t trust people enough and, truth to be said, I was also a bit obstinate, thinking that I could solve everything by myself. But how wrong I was!

Over time you get to realise that you do need a hand every now and then and that it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. So, whenever you are down, lost, with the blues or simply tired, look for a friend. You don’t need to explain them everything and expose your feelings if you don’t want to, you can simply ask for their company. You’ll feel better and see things with more perspective.

3. …and give some, too.

If there is something that helps even more than asking for help is helping out yourself. Unselfish actions give purpose to your life and makes you feel better about yourself and about everything around you. It makes you feel in harmony with the world, since you are giving something and thus contributing to make the world a slightly less hostile place.

Also, if you are generous with people around you and lend them a hand out of sheer goodness, you will find plenty of open hands and arms whenever is you who needs some aid.

Give, and you shall receive.

4. Dance to the music.

“[Music] has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly.”
Oliver Sacks in “Musicophilia”.

There’s many expert studies on the unlimited benefits of music. The music has the power to heal, to soothe, to relax, to inspire and to makes us feel alive. And it’s not only experts, doctors and psychologists who say it; countless musicians, writers, philosophers, even politicians and public personalities have praised the all-mighty effects of music, the only universal language, common to all cultures and eras of humankind.

I refuse to believe that there exists one single person who doesn’t get inspired by music. It can be any music. Just choose yours and hit play. Let the sounds evolve you and touch your emotions. Let your body move to the strokes of the melody and let yourself go, free.

Sometimes you really need to get lost in yourself to find your way. Music can get you there.

5. Cherish the little things that make you happy

This is the decisive practice to find motivation and step out of bed every day.

There isn’t one single reason to wake up in the morning, there’s plenty of them! Life is complicated, full of colour and wonderful things to enjoy: from a smile, to your favourite food or a walk in the park. Sometimes, it’s the combination of all those things that give sense to what you perceive as empty life.

No life is really empty. You just need to remind yourself that it is okay to be lost every now and then, it is fine if you don’t feel like it today, it is completely normal to go through darker moments of fear and gloom. Eventually, you will find your way. We all do.

But, in the meantime, you should concentrate on the little things that make you happy, because never-ending continuous happiness only exists in fairy tales. Happiness is the sum of many little things that fill your day with small but powerful explosions of rapture, pleasure and emotion. That is what really counts, what makes life worthy and interesting.

Step on the colour of life

So, again, cherish the small joys of life while appreciating the scene that surrounds you, with your favourite music playing in the background, at the same time that you selflessly offer your help to those around you.

Be happy, be sad, be lost and be found. In the end, what really matters is that you never stop trying.

Use these small pieces of advice and, hopefully, next time someone asks you “What is your motivation to get up every morning?”, you will know how to answer. By then you will probably have plenty of reasons, although the one that matters the most is probably this: You get up because you want to.