I remember when I used to look for motivation. And some days, motivation found me. (Those, to be sure, were the lucky days.) But on the days motivation didn’t find me, I’d hunt for it. I’d look toward the achievements of others, and then under the couch. Sometimes I’d find motivation. A lot of times I wouldn’t. Often I’d find a quarter, though. This was back when I played guitar, long before I got into fitness.
Then I saw something, a video from one of my favorite guitarists, Nuno Bettencourt. He was giving a guitar clinic, I think in Ohio. Toward the end he opened the floor for questions, and someone asked how he found the time to play guitar as much as he did. His response? “Because I want to play the guitar?”
You could tell he was in love.
Now, I’m not sure if Nuno was being sarcastic about this. He may have just been being an ass. But his response changed my mindset on motivation forever. I realized right away what the problem with motivation was: It just wasn’t reliable. What I needed, wasn’t motivation, but something more. Nuno played the guitar for 7 hours a day not because he liked to, not because he felt inspired to, but because he was in love. Motivation may have got him in, but discipline is what kept him going.
I think motivation is a fine way to start something, but a terrible way to keep it going. Because motivation is a lot like falling in love. People fall in love often many times throughout their lives. But then that feeling fades and they try to rediscover it. Maybe they get a divorce so they can fall in love with someone else. Doesn’t this seem funny to you? Doesn’t this seem just like someone who keeps starting and stopping a diet plan?
The problem with falling in love is that it too is often a fine way to start something, but a terrible way to keep it going. Falling in love is inspiring but fleeting. No matter what, the feeling always fades. So here is where the critical difference is: It’s our being in love–and not our falling in love–where we form the truest and most meaningful bonds, where we really get to know someone.
What I’m saying is being in love =/= falling in love. There are actually quite dissimilar.
Now, is being in love as easy as falling in love? No. And how could it be? But what does something being easy tell us about what something is worth? If anything, the things that are most worthy are the things that are most difficult. The best relationships are not the easiest relationships. The best diet plan is not the easiest diet plan. And there’s at least one difference between falling and being in love. One is easy, the other is work.
Besides, there’s more to life than mere infatuation. What I mean is when you’re not occupied about falling in love with someone new all the time, and have found what it means to be in love with the people you’ve already found, you now have the opportunity to fall (and be) in love with something else. I think falling in love is something everyone should do once with almost everything. But after you fall in love, you must learn to be in love. I’m sure Nuno fell in love with the guitar. But at some point, that feeling ran out on him, and he learned to be in love, and that’s what kept him practicing on all those days he’d rather not. That’s what made him a guitarist.
I also fell in love with guitar, and then I learned to be in love after that initial feeling of infatuation went away. That’s what gets me to practice on all the days I’d rather not. That’s what caused me to become a guitarist.
I fell in love with writing, too, and I remember exactly when that happened and how feverish and giddy I felt, just like you do when falling in love with anything. But those feelings went away also, and so I learned to be in love with writing, and that’s what gets me to write on all the days I’d rather not–days like today, when I’ve got a stomach cramp. Falling in love is for amateurs. Being in love is for pros.
Now, I’m also (very happily) a married man, which means I must have fallen in love with my wife, I would hope. But after those first six or seven or eight months of heat and steam–that “mere infatuation” period that every relationship goes through–I learned to be in love with her, which is what gets me to wipe the table and take out the recycling. It’s also what gets us through our “little disagreements.” Falling in love is for you. Being in love is for them and you.
Exercise and dieting? Meditation and prayer? Children and pets? I’ve fallen in love with all of them, but it’s the being in love that’s seen me through the parts that aren’t always pleasant. The first part is motivation. The second is discipline.
And that’s the difference between falling in and being in love.
Related Reading, Listening, and Resources
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