Everywhere I turn everyday, I encounter people who are unhappy with some aspect of themselves or their lives. They are not just at my psychotherapy practice or the community clinic I volunteer in. I encounter them at church, at nightclubs, at the health club, at the convenience store, at the symphony, at professional gatherings. Something is wrong and they need it to get better. They are everywhere. They are us.

After years of encounters with people who need to make changes in their lives, I find that some get better, and some are stuck. What’s different about those that make the changes and get better? What do they have that the stuck ones don’t?

We know that those who don’t accept responsibility, who blame others for everything and want someone else to fix things, don’t get better. And we know that nothing changes unless action is taken. But where do we get the motivation to act when it has been elusive? Where do we get the energy when we have been drained?

If energy has been a problem, if motivation has been short-lived or nonexistent, you must first ask yourself if you have been open to it. If you’ve been fighting off illness or depression, the first order of business is to get well —to treat the disorder, to see a professional and get the illness diagnosed and properly treated. If you have a broken leg, it is futile and self-defeating to insist on standing and getting to work before you let it heal. You would simply fail and further injure yourself. It is the same with other maladies. You need to treat things that are broken, and rest and heal before you go off to battle. Get a check up, talk about your condition, and then listen.

But being open to the motivational energy you need is more than a clinical issue. It is a spiritual issue, an issue that involves the human and the divine within us. The word enthusiasm speaks of the spirit or God (theos) within us. Enthusiasm is a passion (pathos) that moves us to act, and we summon this by embracing the passions of our life, the things that make us suffer (pathos) as well as the things we desire.

When we suffer pain, our natural healthy response is to change things, to take our hand from the hot stove. We aren’t dispassionate. We admit the pain and respond. We don’t deny the pain. That’s a good thing. Pain motivates us. Some say that nothing changes if we are comfortable, that suffering is what summons the energy and spirit we need to take the actions required. This is true, but it is not the whole truth.

Healthy desire is a good thing. Being dispassionate may be “cool” but it is a denial of both the human and divine in us. Let yourself have a lust for what is good and healthy in life. You have a right by birth to what you can make of life, living in harmony with it. You deserve the good things that you know exist, as much as any of the other fellow beings you have seen enjoying them. The blessings of life are for you as much as anyone.

To solve our problems and achieve our most cherished goals, we will need to take responsibility to cause them, expecting no one else to do our job. And we must take action, be willing to expend the effort and do the work. But we must summon the spirit and energy—invite it, embrace it, let it live within us and let it move us. To get motivated to change, we must allow the enthusiasm, the desire, the passion and spirit to live in us and grow.

So dream of what you would have in your life. Believe that there is a spirit and energy in you that can create and make things happen, that can make plans you haven’t made before, and take actions you’ve not yet taken. With it, things can happen you’ve never dreamed possible.

Author's Bio: 

William Anderson, MA, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist residing in Sarasota, Florida, specializing in weight control. He is the author of the revolutionary new weight loss self-help book, The Anderson Method (Two Harbors Press, 2009, $14.95), and he is training a growing network of licensed therapists in his successful weight loss program. Anderson developed his approach when, as a behavior therapist, he permanently lost 140 pounds over 20 years ago after 25 years of diet and exercise failure. More information can be obtained at http://www.TheAndersonMethod.com