“Head up, heart open. To better days!”
— T.F. Hodge
This article was inspired by a short email we received this morning from a new course student:
Dear Marc and Angel,
There’s so much I still want to create and foster in my life, and yet I feel utterly beaten down. I feel like I have nothing left to work with. I’ve been through a lot on my journey thus far, and I’m now at a point where I’ve lost all my motivation – I just can’t seem to find the external and internal sources of motivation I used to have. Do you have any wisdom you could share?
A Discouraged Student
Our reply (an open reply to all who have lost their motivation):
Dear Discouraged Student,
It’s time for a quick story about life…
Once upon a time there was a woman in her mid sixties who noticed that she had lived her entire life in the same small town. And although she had spent decades enthusiastically dreaming about traveling and seeing the world, she had never taken a single step to make this dream a reality.
Finally, she woke up on the morning of her 65th birthday and decided that now was the time! She sold all of her possessions except for some essential items she needed, packed these items into a backpack, and began her journey out into the world. The first several days on the road were amazing and filled with awe – with every step forward she felt like she was finally living the life she had dreamed.
But a few short weeks later, the days on the road started taking a toll on her. She felt misplaced and she missed the familiar comforts of her old life. As her feet and legs grew more and more sore with each new step, her mood also took a turn for the worse.
Eventually she stopped walking, took off her backpack, slammed it on the ground, and sat down beside it as tears began streaming down her cheeks. She stared hopelessly down a long winding road that once led to an amazing world, but now seemed to lead only to discomfort and unhappiness. “I have nothing! I have nothing left in my life!” she shouted out loud at the top of her lungs.
Coincidentally, a renowned guru and life adviser from a nearby village was resting quietly behind a pine tree adjacent to where the woman was sitting. When the woman began shouting, the guru heard every word and he felt it was his duty to help her. Without thinking twice he jumped out from behind the pine tree, grabbed her backpack, and ran into the forest that lined both sides of the road. Stunned and in complete disbelief, the woman started crying even harder than before, to the point of near breathlessness.
“That backpack was all I had,” she cried.” And now it’s gone! Now everything is gone in my life!”
After about ten minutes of much-needed tears, the woman gradually collected her emotions, stood up again and began staggering slowly down the road. Meanwhile the guru cut through the forest and secretly placed the backpack in the middle of the road just a short distance ahead of the woman.
When the woman’s teary eyes fell upon the backpack, she almost couldn’t believe what she was seeing – everything she thought she had just lost was once again right in front of her. She couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. “Oh, thank heavens!” the woman exclaimed. “I am so grateful! Now I definitely have what I need to continue onward…”
As we journey through our personal and professional lives, there will inevitably be periods of incredible frustration and despair. During those tough times, it will sometimes appear to us that we’ve lost everything, and that nothing and nobody could possibly motivate us to move onward in the direction of our dreams. But just like the woman who stumbled across the guru, we are all holding with us a backpack of support that comes in many forms – it can be a simple email or text message from someone we respect, inspiring blog posts, insightful books, helpful neighbors, and so much more.
When we are feeling discouraged and demotivated, our opportunity is twofold:
- To recognize and appreciate our backpack of support – our external sources of motivation – before a random guru (or someone with far more crooked intentions) has to steal it from us so that we can finally see what we have always taken for granted.
- To be present and tap into our own hearts and minds – our internal sources of motivation – which have the power to push us back up on our feet and guide us down the road to our backpack of support, even when it appears to be lost forever.
No matter your circumstances, you always have what you need to take the next smallest step.
As Epicurus so profoundly said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Be mindful. Be present.
Marc and Angel
Please leave a comment below and let us know:
What’s one source of motivation you typically turn to when you need it most?
Anything else to share?
We would love to hear from YOU. 🙂
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.
Photo by: Patty Maher
Thank you for your great words that keep on inspiring me.
It’s been a rough couple of years of falling and getting back up, but over the last few months the getting back up has felt almost impossible.
I love reading your blogs, they give me hope that tomorrow will be better.
Can you truly be my source of inspiration and motivation? At least half of it or 1/4, I’m the rest.
Thank you so much I needed to read this.
Susan griggs says
Good morning Marc and Angel
I have just read the story of the old lady who thought she had lost everything. At the moment my wonderful husband and I are struggling looking after he’s elderly parents and I felt that we are running around like headless chickens after them that we had lost our freedom which we have enjoyed for many years now the children are getting on in their own lives . It has put a strain on our relationship, but that story had reminded me that I would rather have all the work stresses and strains that not have them in our lives, so thank you for reeling me back in and thinking of them rather than me. How blessed am I to appreciate what we have ?
Thanks so much great reminder, I stumbled upon your website and love this post. I presently on journey that sometimes can be discouraging at times. But most times I find encouragement in the things people have spoken in my life and also looking back from where I am coming from. Looking does it for me, because it allows me see the progress I have made, though at times it looks like nothing is happening. But something is always happening. Thank you, you bless me. Blessings to you.
David Ingham says
Great article of inspiration thanks for sharing you made my day 🙂
Every time I lose my motivation i stop and take a minute or two to look around. I watch how other people’s lives are played out. When you think about it you never really appreciate how much of something you have. But then again when people say you don’t have a hard life as much as others. That you don’t go through more than others their wrong. Not in the sense of reality but in the sense that we all have faced different challenges. They may not be as bad to some people but to us they are the rock bottom. It’s what changes us and makes us who we are. If we don’t have those things to set us apart we never learn. Growing up, it takes a lot of energy and experience. But also it takes motivation it takes someone with passion. You need to realize you can set your mind to anything. But obstacles may be in the way. By that’s life, sometimes you have to realizes you can’t change that. That you have to live your life the way it is. But keeping your eyes open and mind cleared you will never fade away. You won’t fade away into what you never wanted.
Goals set us apart they make us who we are. Some say the key to success for their goals is determination or passion. But in reality it’s just a. Mixture of things combined. So if your trying to find your motivation look around. Seeing what struggles or thing people go through helps me. It helps me to realize I’m not alone. That I can win a battle as long as I just focus and reach my goal. It may take a while but no one said in life your dreams are instant. Because this is reality and we can only live it not rewrite it. No ones life is perfect but there’s no reality where everything is just perfect just an illusion. It makes you wonder what we are striving for. But we are striving for happiness. You can only achieve that if you focus and make your dreams come to life…
Liliya Veleva says
Thanks for sharing, it would be great if we all could support each other in some ways in those difficult times we have been living in.
Thank you for this wonderful letter. Just what I needed. I’m going through a rough time now and I have simply lost all my motivation when I saw the link in my Facebook timeline. The message is God sent.
What a profound article! It is indeed true that when times get tough everything seems hopeless. Presently, I am going through a situation where I do feel like giving up. But I keep reminding myself of that silver lining. Bad times dont last & neither do good ones. Its imperative that we take both with a smile& embrace everything on life. Thank U for your beautiful articles. -reader frm Jamaica
I look into my daughter, and my good friends who have survived their struggles and I also separated my “stuff” from wants and needs. And materialistic does noes not enter my house.
I’ve learnt what matters is the little things and that I can do a lot with nothing!
When I’m having. ” one of those days” I just remind myself of this fact.
“Right now there are billions of people on the planet who would swap places with me in a flash ”
Never fails to get me going again.
Good luck and fortune to you all.
Just accept it as it is. We don’t have to be “juiced up” every moment of every day. Part of personal growth and self improvement is accepting where you are, as you are, in all the moments, not just the highs of life. Explore what is showing up now, it is important to moving forward again because something needs to heal before you can go forward.
Gregg Mottley says
Sometimes all we need is one mind outside of our own to show us our value. Not only to those around us, but to ourselves. One who is at peace with themselves to show us that, despite whatever individual frustrations we are facing, the human condition means that we progress through strife. It is how our species has become what we have become. We learn, no matter how insignificantly or ostentatiously, by trial and error. Sometimes a little story is all it takes to remind us of what we are worth, to ourselves and to others.
I have read your blog for the last couple years but this simple parable has made the most impact.
Thanks to you both for being my inspiration during my particular time of self doubt. Please continue your quest so that others can continue to find theirs.
Thanks. This is interesting and helpful.
A good dose of reality. Reality check gives you urgency. It suddenly occurred to me that All the driven people are motivated by both fear and passion. No one can get enough passion each day to propel you into action daily. Somewhere in the back of our minds we fear the worst. Every now and then bring these fears to the fore! Voila. Secondly, we need inspiration. Daily!
What’s one source of motivation you typically turn to when you need it most?
*Inner Divinity and Purpose of Service
*The beauty and balance of Light and Dark
*Knowing love will not let me down and trusting the process.
*Choosing to surrender, listen and stay listening.
*Dancing through the storms and gracefully flow on the path.
Accepting that we are all a gorgeous, messy work in progress!!
I had to laugh over the similarities between that woman and myself. I have recently reached retirement age, and now that I no longer have the responsibility of caring for an aging parent, or having to go to work everyday, I have considered selling my apartment building and moving away. I’ve even considered getting rid of everything, buying an RV, and hitting the road. As I have begun to do some serious research, I realize I have worked my entire life to get to this point, and now that I can finally enjoy it all, I’m thinking of throwing it all away. Suddenly, I feel myself slamming on the brakes and saying, “Whoa, not so fast!” Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I am realizing, “There’s no place like home!” I need to finish off all the projects that I feel are weighing me down, and once they’re done, I can relax and enjoy it all.
Cathleen Howard says
Omigosh, that could be my “old age” story. I have been doing the same thing for about 10 years; at age 76, I have almost lost this fascination for new places, people, although I know I’d be irritated in my old safe life. I just need a boost of inspired energy. Thank you!
I love this story. I have been struggling since october. No sense of belonging, how can I go on. I guess until we feel dispair we will never know how to move on.