Positive versus negative motivation

I’m thinking there are (at least) two (ideal) types of motivation:

1.Positive Motivation – Doing something for the reward (enjoyment, engagement, mastery) of doing it.
2. Negative Motivation – Doing something to avoid the punishment of not getting it done (guilt, shame, self-loathing).

The first is a focus on the present or near present act of doing; resulting in a focused mindfulness, patience, resilience and success. The second is a focus on the future; resulting in a rushed carelessness, frustration, and frequent injuries (to self and objects at hand).

Both of these forms of motivation tend to form self-reinforcing cycles. Positive motivation arises from being nurtured in a secure environment where life is viewed as constructive play and mistakes are viewed as a natural part of the learning process. Negative motivation arises from deprivation and/or chemical depression–a lack of ability to feel reward (a la serotonin and all that good stuff), although it can also be inherited, to some extent, through upbringing. The latter engenders an anxious orientation toward life, an avoidant personality, and a dependence on external validation. The former encourages engagement, self-confidence and healthy interdependence.

Neither of these forms of motivation are destiny and, like most things, each one contains a little bit of the other.

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