an officer and a gentleman, boot camp, training, fear, death, extreme training

Death: The great motivator

Some days we all need a little extra motivation. To get out of bed, cross the road, meet a deadline, whatever. Maybe you do affirmations in the mirror. Maybe you meditate. Maybe you zen the hell out of yourself. We salute all of those. We try them too. But, some days, nothing seems to work.

So what if we could provide the nudge that you need? What if we told you that one of life’s greatest motivators was death? “Oh yes, we know,” you say. Got to do everything before we die. Shit I am 30/40/50 and there is so much I want to do before I die. Quick, set up a business, have a baby by yourself, move to Iceland (don’t move to Iceland). You know.

This death-threat arse-kick has a name. It’s called Terror Management Theory. Try writing that out for yourself and see how that feels. In a study reported in arstechnica, basketball players who were grimly reminded of their own inevitable demise before playing took more shots and scored more points. The idea being that humans are motivated to seek self-esteem, meaning, and symbolic immortality in order to manage their fear of death. The study’s co-author Jeff Greenberg said, “However, these experiments are the first to show that activating this motivation can influence performance.” So pump up the terror, pump up the performance.

So need a little activation? Grab a megaphone and start shouting, “You are going to die! Aaaaagh! You are going to die! Aaaaagh!” at yourself in the mirror. Try it on your friends, try it on your children. Spelling test? “You are going to die! Aaaaagh!” Try it on your partners/co-workers/bank manager/therapist. Give everybody in your life a taste of your terror management. And see what happens.

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