All motivation is external. Go into this. Motivation means an external force, an external agency, an external stimulus, is acting upon you and making you react in a certain way. Is that not what motivation is?
So, someone comes and says a few words to you - those words have a certain impact on your mind and you start acting and behaving in a particular manner and that is what you call 'motivation', or you watch an inspiring movie or read a fancy tale and that has a certain effect on you, a summoning of energy, and you call that 'motivation', and you are happy with it; but don’t you see what that does to you?
That shifts the ownership of your energy to that external agency.
If motivation can come from the outside, motivation will disappear when that 'outside' disappears. And any external factor cannot always stay with you. A person comes and makes a rousing speech, you are motivated. Will that person stay with you? No! The person is gone, motivation is gone. That’s what happens with us daily, always.
An event, a person, a movie, a particular day, a book, an incident - all these are external. They come and go, so our motivation also comes and goes. Not only that, one external factor comes and motivates you in one direction and the other factor comes and motivates in another direction.
Now, what to do? Papa motivates you to do one thing, the media motivates you to do another thing, and a professional guru motivates you to do the third thing altogether. Now, where to go?
All these are externals pulling you towards themselves - pulling you in directions that they determine. Now, that’s no way of living. That is no way of living a conscious life. This is a great distraction. Are you getting it?
Pulled in different directions by different motivators, by different external agencies that act upon your life, you remain a slave. So, if one element of motivation is slavery, what will you say about making a habit of being motivated? Do you want habitual slavery?
What is a habit? Anything that you do as per the routine, anything for which you don’t have to think, which just happens in a pre-programmed way, is habit. Does habit require any intelligence? Does habit require any discretion, any consideration? No.
The moment you say, 'I am habituated to something', that means it happens on its own, very mechanically. There is no intelligence required in that and you want to be habitually motivated. By constantly seeking motivation, you are demanding to be perennially unconscious so that you remain driven by external factors alone.
The real action does not come from motivation. An energetic, youthful action does not come from motivation. It comes from understanding and intelligence. It has spontaneity to it and it has inwardness to it. The real action does not depend on an external agency.
The external agency can at best take you back to yourself, it cannot motivate you; and there - within yourself - in the light of your own understanding you decide upon the action; even the word ‘decision’ is not accurate, action just happens. In your intelligence action takes place. And you need not make a habit of it.
Life is moment-to-moment, and habit is a rollover, a carry forward from the past. Life is moment-to-moment, why must it be carried from the past? You respond intelligently to each moment. No habit is a good habit, remember.
This difference between the good habit and the bad habit is a false one. A habit means, 'I am not fully conscious, not deciding, I am acting very mechanically, in a pre-programmed way'. And that cannot be good. Do not look for habits like motivation, look for your intelligence.
(The writer is a spiritual guru and founder of Prashant Advait Foundation)