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This chapter might be euphemistically called a summary of the book “in pictures,” as it includes all of the key graphics used throughout the book to represent the core ideas of MST (including summaries of goal content themes, different kinds of emotion patterns, and personal agency belief patterns), TSP (including representations of the TSP Theory of Motivation and Optimal Functioning and the TSP Theory of Life Meaning), and principles for motivating self and others. This chapter was designed to provide readers with a quick summary of the book’s contents and an easy way to recall key ideas related to the challenge of motivating self and others.
This chapter tells the fascinating story of how human motivational processes evolved from the humblest of creatures, starting with “primordial” goals and precursors of basic emotions. In addition to explaining how our capabilities for self-direction and self-regulation evolved, this chapter provides a way of understanding the complexly organized motivational systems we see in humans in a way that transcends specific motivation theories. It is thus a chapter about the fundamental properties of human nature as they relate to motivation and optimal functioning rather than a chapter about a particular theoretical approach to human motivation. That is an essential framing, as one of the basic premises of this book is that efforts to motivate self and others can best succeed if they are consistent with basic human nature.
Many books that aspire to go beyond descriptions of motivational processes to address the question of how to motivate self and others adopt a tactical approach that is overly mechanical and often limited to a narrow range of change pathways and targets of intervention. To avoid these pitfalls, this chapter focuses on broad principles for enhancing optimal human functioning rather than offering simplistic “prescriptions” for motivating self and others. In doing so, we also explain why the uniqueness of individual motivational patterns – psychologically, developmentally, and contextually – makes it impossible to offer formulaic advice for motivating self and others. To engage the reader’s interest, we use a novel Q&A format after the initial presentation of overarching principles to illustrate how a “principled” approach to motivating self and others can be used to diagnosis motivational problems, identify multiple targets of intervention, and envision a variety of pathways to more optimal functioning.
This chapter helps fill a significant gap in the human sciences and professional practice, as theories of life meaning are both few in number and somewhat narrow in scope despite the scientifically and personally compelling nature of the topic. For those focused explicitly on motivating self and others, it opens new horizons for understanding how to elevate human experience under both favorable and adverse circumstances, consistent with the goal of creating a comprehensive theory of motivation and optimal functioning. It does so by explaining not only the nature and antecedents of feelings of life meaning but also that such feelings are facilitated and enhanced by TSP motivational patterns. Life meaning can thus provide humans with the motivational strength needed to overcome major life challenges and obstacles by telling us that “life is worth living” and “these goals are worth pursuing.”
This chapter provides a nontechnical introduction to the components of human motivation (goals, emotions, and personal agency beliefs) that capitalizes on the intuitive understandings that readers already have about motivation from their own everyday experience. This is done through thought questions that encompass motivation of both self and others. The concept of “motivation at its (human) best” – what we call Thriving with Social Purpose – is also introduced as an advance organizer for the chapters to follow.
The Thriving with Social Purpose (TSP) motivational pattern focuses on the powerful consequences of effectively “amplifying” each of the components within our motivational systems to promote optimal functioning, while also infusing goals focused on belonging, helping, equity, and social responsibility into our “home page” motivational orientation. This chapter thus explains, in scientific terms, what it means to thrive and how social purpose goals can elevate our life experience. Consistent with the idea that humans are “whole-person-in-context” living systems, this chapter also discusses ways to enhance motivation and optimal functioning by amplifying the nonmotivational components of human functioning (i.e., biology, knowledge and skills, and key features of the environment). This is the chapter that scholars can best use to generate a wide range of hypotheses for future research about motivation and optimal functioning and that professionals can best use to guide and catalyze their (intrinsically whole-person) intervention efforts.
This chapter explains why the TSP framework elevates goal content focused on humans living and working together in cooperative groups above the many other personal goal themes evident in human goal striving, such as happiness, self-determination, and positive self-evaluations (as cataloged in the twenty-four-category Taxonomy of Human Goals presented in Chapter 3). Citing evidence from developmental and social psychology, experimental economics, social neuroscience, and the evolutionary human sciences, this chapter asserts that the core defining feature of humanity (from a motivational perspective) is not self-interest but social purpose. Consistent with this premise, readers will learn not only how social purpose evolved but how that achievement enabled humans to soar above all other species with respect to cultural and intellectual accomplishments. This chapter also directly tackles the common misconception (in Western cultures) that social purpose is merely “self-interest in disguise,” and why invalidating that fallacy is essential for continued human progress.
This is the first of two chapters that present the core ideas of Motivational Systems Theory (MST), along with supporting evidence that has continued to accumulate not only for MST concepts and principles but also for the broad range of motivation theories developed during the second half of the twentieth century that inspired the development of this integrative framework. Humans evolved to be goal directed, and motivational patterns are organized around goals and contexts. So, the first step in understanding human motivational systems is to dive deeply into the science of personal goals. Metaphorically, our core personal goals are the “leaders” in “motivational headquarters.”
The next step after getting a feel for what “personal goals” are and how they work is to understand the other two components of motivational patterns (emotions and personal agency beliefs) and how goals, emotions, and personal agency beliefs operate as a “leadership team” in motivational headquarters. Learning how these components of human motivational patterns (always) work together to direct, organize, and regulate thought and action provides the conceptual foundation for constructing a theory of motivation and optimal functioning that can inform efforts to help people be more successful and experience enhanced levels of well-being and life meaning. This chapter also introduces the concept of equipoise – a system-wide requirement for optimal functioning – while also explaining how MST concepts can be applied to motivation at the level of human collectives (Group Motivational Systems Theory).
This book describes the essential nature of human motivation by integrating the best ideas and evidence from motivational and evolutionary science. In doing so, the authors explain how the cultivation of goal-life alignment and 'thriving with social purpose' motivational patterns can inspire optimal functioning and enhance life meaning. Readers are provided with a comprehensive framework for guiding research and intervention efforts along with motivational principles designed to summarize the major themes in effective efforts to motivate yourself and those you wish to help or encourage. Special emphasis is placed on the importance of life meaning in empowering our motivational systems and protecting us from downward spirals of disappointment and suffering. Compelling evidence is provided to support the view that social purpose is as fundamental as self-interest in human motivational systems. The authors also focus on the catalytic role of social purpose in enabling humans to soar above all other species.
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