Intrinsic Motivation ~ Monkey Style
They do what they want, love bananas, sex* and can still mess you up if you f’ with them.
What’s not to love?
With that said, let’s talk about their natural curiosity. In the 1950’s a researcher named Harry Harlow experimented with monkeys in a cage.
What did he do? He gave them a device that acted as a mechanical puzzle.
How did they respond? These monkeys spent a lot of time playing with this device (sort of like me with a Rubix cube). They acted in a focused and determined manner in order to try and figure out this puzzle.
Why did they do that? Because they wanted to! There were no rewards and no punishments given if they didn’t do it. In other words, they were naturally inquisitive.
If you ever look at a young child playing with a toy (or a cardboard box), they act in the same manner. They are naturally inquisitive. They are curious about the world and how it works. No one needs to “force” them to play and explore.
The irony is that many adults spend a considerable amount of time trying to get children to “sit down and learn.” They do this of course, by diverting their natural curiosity to “something more important” and therefore move that natural, internal learning to a forced, external learning. Irony at it’s best.
So what does this say about you? It says two things.
1 – At one point you were a naturally inquisitive individual. You liked learning and exploring things that interested you.
There are probably situations in which you still are, but not with many things. Maybe you have a hobby, like sports or video games that you try to “master” although there are NO tangible benefits. You do it simply because it’s challenging, yet fun.
2 – You need to find that motivation with things that actually serve a greater purpose for you.
For example, with exercising, working, or starting a small-business; these things can be naturally fun if you stop thinking that you HAVE TO do it.
An example is Lance Armstrong, who started entering races when he was 10 because he wanted to master something. As he became better at different sports, he kept pushing his boundaries to see what was possible for him. That desire to push his boundaries became his driving force.
This “pushing the limits” is why so many people enter marathons. Not for the running itself, but for the challenge of seeing how far you can go.
So what should you do? Try to find something you can find inherently interesting that can also serve a greater purpose for your life. Allow yourself the time to move past the learning curve that anyone starting something new will inevitably have and enjoy the process.
With enough time and work, you will get to the point where you become a master over your body and will crave the ability to push yourself to your utmost limits.
Get started today!
*Bonoboo monkeys are especially prone to use sex as a way of “keeping peace.” What’s more interesting is that it’s the female bonoboo that is in charge and not the male. They are also the more promiscuous of the bunch. So much for the whole evolutionary males “spread their seed” and women “protect their young” theory.