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  • This episode is supported in part by Curiosity Stream.

  • Every day, you probably have to do at least one thing you'd rather not do.

  • Maybe you have to finish a boring work project, or go to the gym again, or stick to your diet when you'd rather spend the day binging Netflix and eating Doritos.

  • Sticking it to your long-term goals requires motivation, but just like people, motivation is complicated, and understanding more about the science of motivation can help you stay on task at work and at home.

  • I'm Vanessa, and you're watching BrainCraft, where we explore the psychology in your everyday life.

  • Now, psychologists have divided motivation into two types: Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.

  • Intrinsic motivation is when you are driven by internal factors: you do something because you find it fun, or interesting, or meaningful.

  • On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is when you're driven by external factors: you do something because you're getting paid, because someone tells you to, or because you're receiving or expecting positive feedback from others.

  • Even though it seems like extrinsic motivators would be really effective - like, what could be better than cold hard cash - most research actually shows that this isn't the case.

  • Often, individuals driven by intrinsic motivations are more likely to stick with their long-term goals.

  • Studies show that intrinsically motivated people are more likely to keep exercising, or quit smoking, or perform better in school than those driven simply by compliments, money, or a teacher's praise.

  • In fact, providing people with extrinsic motivators, like money, may hamper creative thinking, making them worse at tasks that require problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.

  • So, how can you use science to increase your motivation?

  • First, figure out what your intrinsic motivations are.

  • So, what do you like?

  • What do you think is interesting or meaningful?

  • Let your intrinsic motivations be your guide!

  • For example, let's say your goal is to exercise more often.

  • You're more likely to stick with your goal if you do a type of exercise that you think is fun.

  • So, skip the super boring treadmill and try out a dance class, or sign up for a volleyball league, or play frisbee with your mates.

  • Studies have also shown that people who considered an activity as "fun" rather than strictly "exercise" were less likely to compensate after with snacks and desserts.

  • So, there's actually multiple ways that "fun" physical activities could improve your health.

  • At work, it can be harder to figure out your intrinsic motivations, but try to focus on what you like about your job.

  • So, does your company work on issues that are important to you?

  • Do you enjoy being helpful to your coworkers or getting to solve problems?

  • Focusing on that could help you get through a particularly boring or difficult task.

  • All right, are you still having trouble getting motivated?

  • Well, It turns out motivation can be contagious!

  • You can increase your own motivation by surrounding yourself with other intrinsically motivated people.

  • In one study, students were taught by an instructor that they were told was either volunteering, so intrinsically motivated, or paid, so extrinsically motivated.

  • Students taught by the volunteer showed greater interest and persistence in the activity, suggesting that other peoples' motivation can rub off on us.

  • So, if you are still struggling, perhaps it's time to hit a crowded gym, a study group, or a co-working space.

  • Ultimately, we can't hack our brains to feel motivated all the time.

  • But by focusing on our intrinsic motivationsand surrounding ourselves with intrinsically motivated people, we can increase our ability to power through tasks and stick to our long-term goals.

  • And, if you want to surround yourself with intrinsically motivated people, there are a lot in Return to the Moon.

  • You can see it on Curiosity Stream, who are the sponsor of today's episode.

  • They're a subscription streaming service with more than 2,400 documentaries, non-fiction titles, and originals for you to watch.

  • Unlimited access starts at $2.99 a month, but for BrainCraft viewers, the first 30 days are free if you sign up at and use the promo code braincraft.

  • Thanks, everyone!

This episode is supported in part by Curiosity Stream.

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How to Stay Motivated, Using Psychology.

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    Miho Ishii posted on 2021/03/11
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