What is it, and where does it come from? Does it come from within us, or is it external? Is it simply a desire to improve ourselves, or do men simply want the things that an improved self brings – money, power, and women?
Do we work out to be stronger, or to impress our mates? Or do we do it to intimidate our competitors?
I imagine that for each of us the answer is different. Certainly we have all heard about those seemingly selfless people who donate millions to charities and and spend their time feeding the poor and helping the helpless. We also know of people who seem to care only about money – those jackasses who would sell their mother to make an extra buck.
Is the source of our motivation good or evil? Do we judge the things that motivate us, or is that something that only someone who was motivated by good would do? It seems unlikely that Hitler ever questioned his motivation. On the reverse side, does the Pope sometimes wonder if he should have become a Rabbi instead of a Priest?
Each of us is at our place in life for a very specific reason – it is where our actions or inactions have led us to be. Ultimately, the things that motivate us have guided those decisions. The power to change is always within our own hands. It’s true that some people have a much harder path than others. Minorities struggle against the status quo; people born with disabilities struggle to complete tasks that the rest of us never even think about. How does one poor child pick himself up and become an Oscar winning millionaire, and another end up in prison? How did Stephen Hawking become a Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, while other ALS victims end up in institutions?
It always comes down to motivation. Finding that motivation within us is very important. It can show us our purpose. It will help us overcome adversity. It will pull us through our darkest moments – whether it is as simple as going for a run on a cold day, or as serious as learning to walk again after an accident.