Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

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Do you consider yourself a success? You decided to read this post, so I’ll guess you don’t. Not completely. There are plenty of excuses for feeling like a failure. You could play the blame game. One common excuse is blaming your parents.

Passing the Buck to Your Parents

If you feel that you are not a success in life, an easy way out is to blame your upbringing. Unless you’re still a child, your childhood should have nothing to do with your success or failure. But, we do like our excuses.

At most, the way you were raised could have been a setup for failure. If you stuck with the way you were raised and didn’t learn anything new, you could fail and blame it on your parents. Let’s see where you might find a place to (mistakenly) lay the blame.

There are many ways to classify parenting styles. I’ll use a set of styles I studied for a group paper in experimental psychology. It divides parenting styles into four types: Uninvolved, Permissive, Authoritarian, and Authoritative.

Uninvolved: An uninvolved parent doesn’t direct their children in any way, leaving parenting to the other parent. If both your parents were uninvolved, you raised yourself.

Permissive: Lets their children do whatever they’re interested in doing. Control is through rewards. Results in narcissistic adults who care only about themselves and don’t care who else they hurt as long as they get their way. This parenting type gets control through focusing on their children’s best choices, giving them what they want. As adults, the children try new things and want to meet new people because of the expectation of reward.

Authoritarian: Demands their children do as they say because they say so. Control is through punishment. This creates adults who are good at doing what they’re told and not good at thinking for themselves. As adults, the children tend to avoid trying new things and meeting new people because of a fear of punishment.

Authoritative: These parents exert high control over and high responsiveness to their children. Control is through both reward and punishment. There is open communication between parents and children. Children raised by authoritative parents are socially responsible and independent and they are also high in social and cognitive competence.

So now if you’d like to lay blame for why you weren’t a success when you first left home, you could pick the parenting style that sounds like your childhood and blame that. But, you went through adolescence. You had those rebellious years as a first chance to change yourself. As an adult, you are free to continue changing yourself.



Why Does Religion Persist?Photo license

While the response to “religion?” on surveys is increasingly “no religion”, there are still a great many people who find a belief in a higher power improves their lives.

How does religion improve your life?

1. Religions prohibit vices. That saves you money.

2. Religions promote or demand altruistic giving. This can make you feel good for helping others.

3. Belief in a happy afterlife or reincarnation makes it easier for you to tolerate an unhappy present life.

4. Belief in a higher power can get you through hard times. Leave your problems in the hands of the higher power and it will all work out.

5. Participating in a religion gives you a social group.

People with no religion can enjoy all of these same benefits.


Willpower and MotivationPhoto license

Willpower is doing whatever it takes to reach your long term goals. It is also avoiding what you should not do. It is both achievement and abstinence.

Self-discipline has been found to be a key factor in success. You can succeed without it, of course. Maybe you’ll luck out on a good job or have a nice lotto win. Joking and luck aside, you are more likely to achieve what you want when you have strong willpower.

Steps in using willpower:

1. Decide why you want to change, your motivation, and set clear goals.

2. Monitor your actions as you move toward those goals.

3. Exercise your willpower to keep on track.

Willpower is cognitive, not emotional. Don’t let your emotions take over. If you’re guided by what you feel like doing, you’ll go off track. What is your goal? What must you do to achieve it? It doesn’t matter how you feel about the task right now. It’s how you will feel when you succeed. Let logic win.


Too Much EducationPhoto license

Are we getting too much education today or is it the same education as in the past drawn out over a longer period of time so that everyone passes?

My grandfather had a grade five education, started out with his own business, later went into government where he set up medicare for an entire province among other things, and eventually became a mayor.

My father had a high school diploma, went in for manual labor and factory work, and retired with a pension.

I have a university degree and will need to work until I die.

Untangling Education versus Pay

Part of the change over the generations described above is due to recessions or depressions appearing about every ten years. Those have kept wages down while raising the cost of living.

The result has been that more and more education is needed to get a job that just pays the bills. Thanks to student loans, it can be a long time before those better paying jobs make a difference in your bank account. Many choose to stop at high school and get by on minimum wage or enter the welfare system.

But that’s a separate problem. Let’s stick with the value of education.

We Were Taught More in the Past

In 1917, my then 12 year old grandmother moved to Canada from Scotland with her family. She had been in grade 9 studying calculus and algebra, among other subjects appropriate for the grade level.

When she enrolled in school in Canada she was told, “Grade 9 is too far ahead for a 12 year old. We’re putting you in grade 6.” She was disappointed to say the least. For the rest of her public education, she was at the top of her class and went on to take a one year teacher’s degree. When she went to work as a teacher, she could have been a principal but was passed over for a less qualified male teacher because, “It wouldn’t be right for a woman to be a man’s supervisor.” Yeah. It was a different world in a lot of ways.

That’s Just Scotland

Is it just Scotland? Did they start kids in school three years earlier than Canada? I think it was Europe versus North America. Maybe it still is.

Any readers from Europe who would like to comment on what grade, age, and year they found themselves studying calculus and algebra? Scottish comments could be especially revealing.

Location is not the point either. It’s how much education and how soon.

Triumph of the Unintelligent?

When I went to school in the 1960s and 70s, a 60% was required or you repeated the grade. I passed every grade with little effort. A pass was all the school and my parents demanded. Why this matters will make sense shortly.