People work harder for others than they do for themselves because humans are hard-wired for cooperation. For motivation, social value is stronger than self-interest.
Negative proof:–Recently a respected retirement home was saddened by the suicide of one of its most appreciated residents, a retiree from an active and productive career, father of several successful, caring children. Living with his wife, he was surrounded by healthy activities and supporting family—a prime prospect for an active retirement.
There was no surprise in his suicide. Being provided everything he needed, he was missing the most important ingredient of life: nobody needed him. After a lifetime of caring for others, he was deprived of his vital identity as a nurturer.
Positive proof:–In my childhood I heard a father testify at church that his daughter was keeping him alive. He had experienced a difficult life that left him with a lovely pre-teen daughter and insignificant material possessions. He would have given up on himself, but he was sensitive to his daughter’s needs and potential. Supporting her progress assured him purpose for staying alive.
A young mother survived drug addiction to save her daughter. Her first person account described frustration and drug abuse before her pregnancy. Eventually her caring human values and mother instinct made her sensitive to the needs of her daughter more than she had been to her own needs. Her courage to overcome addiction was realizing that more than her own life depended on recovery.
Discussion:–If you are keen on resistance training, you may be thinking that adversity makes us stronger. However, it is the will, not the resistance, that leads to strength. Addicts have excess adversity. The geriatric client could have sought out some worthy cause for which to live, some adversity to overcome. Instead of being invigorated, he died internally lacking motivation to find and conquer a challenge. He thought all his needs were being met by other people and did not realize his overpowering need to be needed by other people.
Consider the power of empathy: The new name of this blog BeingForOthers reminds us that service to others is peak motivation.