For my mom’s birthday, I got her a leather bracelet with a metal plate that said: “Encourage your hopes, not your fears.” I have always taken stock in the idea that self-motivation and self-talk has an important effect on one’s outlook on the future and the work one does in the present. I myself have benefitted from reading Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass, in which I learned strategies to live closer to my authentic self and pursue success. However, how much of this motivation comes from outside sources? Could motivational speaking not be as helpful as it’s lauded to be? According to research, a positive attitude may actually improve your mental wellbeing; self-help can help lead you to a positive outlook on life and motivate you to become the best you can be.
It is easy to be skeptical of motivational products on the internet. There are plenty of blog posts, videos, and speakers that talk about positive attitude or strategies to stay motivated, but they can sometimes come off as groundless. As charming as the sentiment of motivation can be, how much is it really going to affect someone’s behavior in the long run? In fact, there has been some research on the topic of motivation and performance based off of attitude. According to “Livestrong,” research from Mayo Clinic suggests that a positive attitude can both better your psychological wellbeing and aid in stress management. According to the Huffington Post, Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina found that positive emotions allow one to consider a larger variety of possibilities. When people are overcome with fear or anger, they are more likely to shut down and fail to consider alternative options to their knee-jerk reactions. Motivational products remind people to have hope and take on a more positive outlook. Some prefer to take motivation from reading books. Some prefer to wear their affirmations or post them in prominent places in their homes. Some prefer to watch Youtube videos. All of these can contribute to a more positive outlook because motivational products act to try to put the power in the reader’s or watcher’s hands. You Are a Badass even suggests its thesis in its title; in the end, you have the power to overcome your fears and carve out your own destiny.
I can understand the cynicism when it comes to motivational products such as books, trinkets, or even videos. According to “Brainblogger,” as of 2014, the self-motivation industry rakes in ten billion dollars a year in the United States alone. It is easy for a cynic to believe that there are at least come charlatans in such a vast and lucrative industry. However, there is scientific research from reputable sources that show the benefits of a positive attitude. Just as someone may need a personal trainer for their physical health, perhaps one should consider the idea that motivational books or videos can act as a personal trainer for their mental health. In a world full of fear and anger, perhaps we should try to find a positive outlook amongst the chaos and brighten up the world a little bit. After all, misery loves company, but happiness is contagious.