Learning Motivation



Weak Motives

If you won't read a book unless it has colored illustrations in it, of a good guy fighting a bad guy to win the beautiful girl (like most animals in the jungle daily do), holding the book with one hand and your favorite drink with the other, with music in the background while relaxing in bed or bathtub ... if you have to mix every thought you have with a corresponding sensual pleasure—because thinking bores you—you will probably never learn much.

You refused to silence your body's senses when it was time the mind's should speak. For although you accepted to read, you still feel no need to think or bother to, except when other senses dictate so. You are happy with your animal rank, and the humble lot of the un-evolved life form you chose to be. You won't grow up, and might as well die young, at least at heart, of chronic incuriosity.

It's paradoxical to see some claiming to love a subject they don't read about, only to impress other people. You may do so yourself, or you read, or think you do, to convince yourself that you know much, just to boost your ego. If you truly love yourself and others, you should do what helps you and others. Love is responsibility: if you love something/someone, prove that love, by showing how much you think of it/them. If not, find alternatives you truly love, enough to make you interested to think and learn about. Worse than lazy learners are "false learners" or dilettantes: people who claim to know about a subject they don't know about or love, only to improve their image in front of others. There are dilettante writers, teachers, scientists, politicians ... whose influence affects whole nations. Dilettantes' harm to society is more than that of the ignorant or illiterates, because they intentionally spread false knowledge, that is worse than no knowledge. If you are a dilettante yourself, cure yourself, fast!

Strong Motives

Books are the prime source of information, where the gist of all humanity's experiences is. Not much else in life is urgently worth hearing, seeing, visiting ... for finding new knowledge.

To learn, we basically need our senses for word recognition, as words are the vehicle through which knowledge is carried. We will continue to depend on words and books until technology offers us better methods to store data, communicate, give orders, move objects ... directly with our brain, with no need for words or senses.

Learn for yourself! There is no need to wait for someone else to suggest a book for you to read, if not share reading it with you; or until it becomes a public sensation so that you may follow other sheep in the herd. Why wait for others to fill your empty cup, when both cup and water are within your reach! All you need is thirst: curiosity. Just pause your body senses for a while, and you will be surprised how thirsty you've been all the while. You will discover how badly you treated your brain, ignored it, starved it, tortured it, suppressed it, deceived it, mocked it ... almost killed it, like it's not yours, or it belongs to those others you sheepishly follow, serve and mimic. Don't be sad or surprised when that brain is no more responding, waiting for a kiss of life from you to breathe again, to have its dulled, muted senses alive and keen again.

If you are not so curious about understanding the mysteries of life, satisfying yourself instead with sensual pleasures only, your endeavor is absolutely justified and worth-living too; but it's no different from that of your pet, or the rest of animals, that also live to enjoy themselves. Happiness is what life is about, not knowledge; but when knowledge leads to happiness, and one becomes synonymous with the other, knowledge too becomes worth staying for. To live and learn is better than live and eat, mate, smell, etc. When you feel dispirited, losing interest in life altogether and all its pleasures, somewhere in your nature a lingering curiosity is still holding on to life, and you'll find the never-aging child inside you still have questions, old and new, almost endless, that need answers from you. You will not want to kill that child, will you? Whether it was loved by others or not, you know it has no one left but you to save. It's worth your love, because it is you.

All Motives

There is knowledge to seek for pleasure, and knowledge to seek for benefit; or the same source of knowledge can both be useful and pleasurable.

1. The knowledge we seek for pleasure is usually about subjects related to:

  • Sensual pleasures, like books about nature, travel, art, food, sex, etc.
  • Social pleasures, such as biographies, multi-character novels; books about large-scale gatherings, parties, competitions, families and friend circles; school, workplace, crowds, weddings, funerals, and even catastrophes and wartimes, all of which can delve into the depth of human bonds.
  • Mental pleasures, which are as diverse and colorful as socio-sensual pleasures, and more useful, meaningful and available:
  1. Curiosity: any branch of science or field of knowledge we are curious about and want to explore for pleasure, answering all the different, changing questions we ask all our life.
  2. Brain-Exercise: detective stories, crime, mystery, puzzles, math, etc.
  3. Imagination: fiction in general, with more focus on fantasy than morals: imaginary worlds, time-travel, fairy tales, ghosts, etc.
  4. Reminiscing: nostalgic books about one's birthplace, childhood, youth and special occasions in one's life.
  5. Laughing: humor, satire, comedies, comics, jokes, etc.
  6. Relaxation: light reading, re-reading books, easy puzzles, trivia ...
  7. Suspense: horror, catastrophes, gothic novels:
    • Harmless fear is better than boredom and apathy.
    • Fear is naturally followed by an endorphin rush, when we survive it.
    • It's a healthy release and projection of inner suppressed emotions.
    • It's a good rehearsal of dangers to avoid and worst-case scenarios to visualize before they happen.

2. The knowledge we seek for benefit is usually about:

  • Making, saving and spending money.
  • Finding, securing and improving a job.
  • Protection and maintenance of one's possessions: house, appliances, car, land ...
  • Protection and maintenance of one's body: medicine, exercise, etc.
  • Coping with immediate environment: weather changes, disasters, predators ...
  • Socializing, networking , leadership, and dealing with different people.
  • Specialized books: professional, simplified, or "self-help" (do-it-yourself, teach yourself, how-to, problem-solving, etc.).
  • General books on safety, security, rights, etc.


Growing Motivation

Our attitude toward learning is shaped by different factors, that may or may not grow motivation for learning.

Learning is affected by those we live with, whom we care about out of sympathy, jealousy, or interest. Social bonds can be a form of knowledge: we get out of ourselves to know how it feels to be somebody else. Sympathy is a learning experience, provided it's mindful and flexible, else we'll sink in the same quagmire with those we sympathize with (when the blind lead the blind problems are doubled, not solved). We love helping those who help us, expecting help in return, but we also help those who interest us. (The latter have a mystery we are later to understand, as in our subconscious we know somehow, someday they can help us too, physically and otherwise). When others are neither helpful nor interesting, our sympathy ceases to exist, and the benefactor in us won't materialize.

People say: "Love is to share!" But share what? Food, sex, a household? We love people we share jokes, memories, environment or language with. Yet, sharing ideas is the deepest and mind bonds are the strongest. An intellectual bond is not expressed in conversation only: sometimes, an hours-long conversation doesn't amount to a moment of silence that is more telling.

School, family, culture, and environment, all influence the way we love or hate knowledge. Along with our individual choices, they shape our attitude toward life, the world and ourselves. Bad experiences and "bad learning" can have an irreparable damaging effect on our brains.

Intellectual pleasure is the most useful, influential, "ignored" of pleasures, and, incidentally, the most inexpensive to find too; yet we disrespect it , mostly because of the pathetic encounter we had with it at school, that could've been a happy one had it been  properly prepared for, like a rendezvous or trip. We can almost evoke the traumatic memories instantly: the tremendous stress before exams, the frigid lifeless curricula by equally boring teachers, the uncertainty and insecurity about life after school and future competition in a society that is more competitive than cooperative, just like a jungle.

We hate learning because of the harsh upbringing we had in households restricting our imagination, curiosity and asking questions. We hate knowledge because of the rules of the repressive society we must follow blindly, the freedom of expression we are not allowed, the individual creativity that is ignored, and imagination that is considered lunacy and childishness. The result: Our brains have turned into dark, deserted houses, haunted by superstitions and savages only wanting our death. Poor Knowledge! We looked down upon her, although she is the reason we are alive.

It's unnatural to choose one when you have many, let alone unhealthy. This is why we found the pleasure of seeing (realizing) new things has become the most adapting of pleasures, serving our evolution and keeping us from extinction: curiosity about the unknown has saved our life. While change is the nature of things, seeing that change is the ultimate excitement. Watching "creation in progress" is the Supreme Pleasure (being made by a deity, intelligent design, nature, or just us humans, has no or little effect on the pleasure).

Seeking the truth by the act of learning is the most superior goal. We need to combine all our pleasures with knowledge, to give them meaning and continuity. A pleasure without meaning eventually dies. All happiness forms keep changing from one generation to another, but Knowledge doesn't.

Following our animal instincts mindlessly is nothing more than taking a narcotic drug, both doing the same thing: blurring our vision of reality. We constantly forget that we are humans, not animals, because we carry animal bodies. Our brain is the concrete result of evolution over millions of years. It's nature's ever-dearest tool, that we can use or abuse to change nature itself. Man, the legitimate Son of Nature, has become the sole heir, yet his wisdom obliges him to live in harmony with her, knowing that in the end he will die and she will stay. Some imbeciles respect neither Nature nor the Mind that re-creates Nature; they kill both, not knowing why they were born in the first place; they lived to die.


Books for Autodidacts         |         Reading Techniques         |         Intellectual Pleasure