Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teen Tuesday: Hope versus Motivation

In my college psychology class we discussed an experiment on hope. It's a gruesome story and one I don't like repeating. However, it illustrates my point perfectly. In short, rats were left to drown in a bucket of freezing water. At the moment they gave up, they were dipped out, dried off and fed snacks. After this miraculous rescue, they were plunged back into the water and left to their own devices.

Now, a normal rat will swim about thirteen to fourteen minutes before fatigue sets in. Not so with the previously-saved rats who were still swimming nearly three days later.


That's what the scientists called it. That's what many inspirational speakers call it when they recount this horror story of an experiment.

Others call it motivation.

What's the difference? And how does that difference affect you and your upcoming years of highschool survival?

I believe hope is something that comes from outside yourself. It's something you cannot achieve on your own. It's merely a thought you can hold on to that influences what you do. (I hope someone saves me soon!)

Motivation, on the other hand, speaks of action. It's making a conscious choice to work toward a goal. (Swim. If I stop, I'll drown. If I swim, I'll reach safety. Swim!)

Hope puts the outcome in someone else's hands, while motivation leaves it firmly in yours.

As teens, you need to take control of your lives. You need to start making choices that will affect the outcome of your future. Don't chug a six-pack and hope you make it home after the party. That's ridiculous and dangerous. Not to mention stupid on many levels.

Instead, let your desire to make it home happy, healthy and safe motivate you to choose
  • not to drink
  • not to ride with someone who's been drinking, or
  • to seek a sober ride home.
You alone are in charge of your actions. Don't just sit back and hope things will work out in your favor. Rather, think about what you want in life and use that goal as motivation to succeed.

What things can you control as a teen? Think about all the paths your future can take--teacher or burger flipper, business CEO or bar fly, muscian or teen mother. Now, what choices can you make that will help you reach your goals? Which ones will inhibit your ability to reach them?

Sink or swim? The choice is yours.

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