Posted by: cmittermeier | February 8, 2011

What motivates?

Our parish facebook page had this link recently:

It is a very nicely designed recap of a lot of modern research on how to get people to do stuff.  The scientific findings – this is not a recap of Catholic ideology here – show that carrot and the stick only work for menial tasks.  All tasks that require anything more are motivated by three things that are this: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

Autonomy: the ability to choose our own destiny.  Mastery: the intrinsic rewards of getting better.  Purpose: something beyond yourself.

As I look at where things are in my journey I see bits and pieces of this starting to push there way forward.  Going through the list backwards, I have purpose.  There is a reason that connects to something well beyond me.  I am a temple of the holy spirit and to mistreat my body so is like smearing slime on a church pew.  Next is mastery.  I have already spoken about how good it feels to get back my strength, to see how much more I can do – the increase in the number of reps and types of exercises is very fulfilling.  Most recently, I have been wanting more and more to move away from my coach – to fly on my own wings.  It is not that I don’t enjoy our routines, don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy it!

I must admit though, none of the above ideas are new to me.  It is in the bible many times that carrot type rewards just don’t fulfill us.  To the woman at the well Jesus tells of how it is the living water that satisfies, not the one you must keep coming back for.  For the other three points, that do work to move us forward consider the following.  Our lives are not predestined.  We have free choice, and that doesn’t mean simply between good and bad.  Wearing a blue or a green shirt is a very silly but effective way to show that we have choice in our life that goes beyond right and wrong.  Autonomy is basic Catholic doctrine.  Mastery is found all the way through the bible – we are gold tested in fire… it is fundamental to our journey.  And purpose, well that doesn’t even need any explanation!

Voila, once again modern science reinvents the wheel.



  1. Very Nice, Mrs. Mittermeier!!

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