Stress & Motivation

“Behaviors become habitual faster in stressed animals, and stressed animals can’t shift back to goal-directed behaviors when that would be the better approach.”
— Dr. Nuno Sousa, Life & Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Minho, Portugal, reporting on his experiments with rats

It’s easy and tempting to see at least a little of ourselves in Dr. Sousa’s stressed test subjects, especially these days while so many of us struggle against the effects of a contracting global economy and often violent political unrest. We “revert.” We “retreat.” We toil with our heads down. This according to countless interpretations of the contemporary human experience both in developed and underdeveloped countries.

Anxiety can be a powerful de-motivator, to be sure, but it’s not as strong as our desire to thrive. We bipeds are capable of overcoming tremendous adversity when properly motivated. A reminder of better times. A grounded promise from a trusted source. Such gestures work miracles for those that receive them, and they can pay handsome dividends to those that profer them.

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