November 19, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving to all! May it be joyful as you surround yourself with friends and family!


Children and teens often need motivation to change and grow. That is what great leaders offer them. We as a society of parents need to continue to learn to think and not accept nor assume. That is what great teachers do.

Complacency and comfort often rule people's minds. Walking outside in the cold or rain is work. The couch is not. What is the secret to motivation?

The obvious answer is that it is different for every individual and finding what makes them tick is the key. This is the essence of personalized medicine, personalized parenting, personalized friendship, and so on. .
When it comes to motivation, I often reflect on movies like Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting that speak to this issue from a learning perspective. The theme powerfully states "carpe diem" or "seize the day". No matter your lot in life, everyday has the opportunity for greatness. Greatness of your choosing. Seizing the opportunity is the choice one needs to make. In the recent past, I cared for a young lady with a tough past and a desire to hurt herself. I found that the only discussion that resonated with her was truth and desire. We discussed the fact that you cannot change the past no matter what it was. You have to accept it for what it is and decide on a new path where possible. The future is the major point of discussion. She could seize this bad moment or moments as motivation against a continued negative future or she could remain in the past, angry and lost. She felt heard and at least momentarily was able to smile and see a light of hope. Ultimately, it had to be her choice on her terms.

From a completely different angle related to thinking, last week, while running behind in clinic, I had an interesting experience. I walked into the room only to be greeted by a 13 year old teen who said, "your late" with a gruff attitude before I could utter a word. His father was mortified and asked him to apologize. I said that it was unnecessary. I wanted to know what the teen thought about my tardiness. This question made him uneasy. I persisted. I asked him if he thought that I wanted to be late? He did not answer. I persisted. I wanted him to think, why would I be late. He said, someone was sick. Bingo. I said, imagine that I was diagnosing you with cancer or any traumatic problem, would you prefer I do it in a timely manner to get to the next room or help you cope and process the problem at hand. No reply. None needed. He thought and that was enough.

 We as a society need to keep learning to think and not project our negative beliefs out into space. We need to teach our kids to think first of all of the possibilities and aim for the one that makes the most sense, not the one that feeds a simple belief and especially not the negative one unless it is proven true. 

Motivation and thinking must come from within, however, they can be stimulated from the external world by a curious and conscious listener who picks up on the cues of the unmotivated or unthinking. Listen where you can and offer advice that is motivating for the individual. Challenge them to think of many answers and choose the logical one. Think of occam's razor here: when presented with two or more choices, the logical one with the least assumptions is usually the correct one.Please try not to enable or answer the questions for your kids without challenging them to grow and think and learn from within. 

When I listen to the interviews of great Americans, a common thread is woven throughout. These Americans were motivated by their parents to seek and learn by themselves. Parents expected exploration. Often they demanded it. These children then realized that their personal growth came from within and they had to depend on themselves. This cannot be overstated. Self motivation is always preferable to external motivational needs, but you may need the latter to force-feed the former.


Think, teach and then motivate,

Dr. M