Free Press Journal

How to motivate the mind to excel

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The underlying factors which contribute towards psychological motivation include the focus on psychological, social and environmental factors, writes Ravi Valluri

Do the words micro-management or detail-orientated ring a bell or strike a chord in our minds? The geometry of the febrile minds of seekers, be it spiritual masters, 24×7 politicians, emblematic thespians, writers, painters, architects, achievers or unswerving and unwavering sportspersons, get cogitated to scale the summit. A passionate and zealous mind, perhaps to the annoyance of both his contemporaries and adversaries gets to the rub and kernel, addressing the focal point. This is the quintessential trait of a motivated mind.

The celebrated and talismanic trouper Aamir Khan is a perfectionist, known for   gargantuan and Brobdingnagian experimentation while essaying canonical roles. His robust and resolute mind is continually and perpetually engaged to embrace what may appear impertinent ideas on the surface, but at the subterranean level is alive and kicking to deliver something prodigious and colossal.


A saturnine looking, rotund and oleaginous 24×7 politician – whose snigger and smile appear almost similar- who has a penchant for playing chess and pouring into Kautilya’s Arthashastra, is brimful of ideas. His mere gaze sends shivers down the spine of foes and friends alike. This incredible gentleman has expanded the base of the political party of which he is the President across the swathes of the land. His legendary skills are what psychologists would term as detail-oriented.

Sunita, a demure looking girl who hails from a bijou town of Bihar was raised in refractory and obstreperous conditions. However, undeterred she burnt the midnight oil and toiled to break into the estimable Civil Services of the country. Her motivation being the fact that bureaucrats are revered like celestial beings, virtually immortalized in Bihar and neighboring Uttar Pradesh.

Hemant Sharma, an army sepoy lost his limbs in a dastardly terror attack while patrolling the border in strife stricken Jammu and Kashmir. Despite his prosthetic limbs, the former soldier is determined to take part in an expedition to Mount Kailasa and is training extensively for the spiritual sojourn. He sports a beaming smile which camouflages and conceals the enduring pain and agony. The mind is suffused with jollity and has demolished all antipathetic and demonic thoughts.

The former army personnel’s son Aman is a tutee in a college and doubles up as a waiter in an eatery. The strapping youngster is saving every penny to spring for his illustrious father’s expedition.

They are all blessed individuals, who are indoctrinated with high levels of motivation to achieve excellence in their chosen field. Such individuals are self-propelled and goal driven. They have broken the false glass ceilings of frustration and cultural influences to attain their dreams and ambitions.

Motivation is derived from the Latin word ‘movere’. Essentially, it refers to movement of activity. The bedrock of motivation lies in what is termed by eminent psychoanalysts and psychologists as motivation cycle. The trigger is a need which translates itself into a drive, that driver translates into arousal of thought process, which further results in goal-directed behavior. Consequently, the ecstatic human mind dives into achievement and eventually culminates in the reduction of the arousal of the need.

Invariably deficit or extreme desire dispatch signals to the human mind. This flushed state leads to a condition of drive. It is an arousal state in the mind which results in tension and energizes the mind to engage in what is termed as random activity in psychological parlance. Sequentially, this leads random activities to achieve the desired objective, target or goal. Once the target is accomplished the excited and emotional mind is at peace and attains tranquility.

But this state of hush and repose is not a settled issue. Once again, the motivational cycle that operates, Need-Drive-Arousal-Goal Oriented Behavior- Achievement- Reduction of arousal.

It has been hypothesised by psychologists that our daily lives are governed by two kinds of motives. The first one is physiological, while the other is psychological.

Physiological motives focus on causes such as hormonal balances, neurotransmitters, brain structures such as hypothalamus, limbic system. These result in our daily requirements like satiating our hunger, quenching human thirst and sexual motives.

Hunger is triggered by stimuli for hunger. The motivation to quench thirst arises from depletion of water from cells and reduction of blood volume. Humans and animals covet sex because release of hormones. Sexual gratification is also predetermined by cultural factors and the company we keep. Today social media, technology has further fuelled the imagination of humans to explore that which was perhaps earlier cloaked under the garb of respectability.

The underlying factors which contribute towards psychological motivation include the focus on psychological, social and environmental factors. An impenetrable and inviolable desire to be successful, recognised by the society at large, need for affiliation, requirement for unbridled power, sheer curiosity, exploring the unknown and self-actualisation are other psychological triggers.

The motivational cycle certainly challenges the mind to achieve even that which seems impossible. However, an individual gets ensnared in the vortex of this motivational cycle which causes stress on the mind. Success feeds success; but over a period, success also begins to feed stress.

So, the question is can human beings break free from the cauldron of motivational cycle?

Sage Ashtavakra has extensively deliberated on the concept of the state of stillness of  the human mind. The realisation that all acts arise, suffer, change and pass away and in no manner, should it disturb our mental equilibrium assuages a stressed mind. The path to salvation lies in being able to calm the mind through the practice of wakefulness or mindfulness. We feel light as a feather and experience jollity and bliss, when we neither grieve misfortune nor carouse in success.

Thus nature has bestowed upon us the mechanism and springboard to motivate the mind to excel. However, we are often subsumed by avarice and greed as results appear startling. But these are merely illusory like the electricity produced by sensual pleasures.

It is then that mindful awareness and a state of detached attachment acts as our lifeboat.