I can choose how I want to BE.
I can choose what I want to DO.
Do, Be, Do, Be, Do, Do, Do, Do, Do, Be (sung like Sinatra)

Our brain responds to three types of motivation, according to psychologists Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson. We are mobilized and energized by:

  1. Desire for The Pleasant Life
  2. Involvement in The Engaged Life
  3. Inspiration from The Meaningful Life

There is nothing wrong with wanting to live a Pleasant Life, one in which the good times (Activities We Truly Enjoy) outnumber the bad (Activities We Don’t Enjoy That Are Necessary).  It’s just that making The Pleasant Life happen is out of our control… in contrast to what is in our control: our capacity to increase our engagement and find meaning in whatever we do.

Fortunately, our brain responds to neural nudges from curiosity interventions like Acting As If… when we reperceive or reframe a “don’t enjoy” activity and turn it into one that is meaningful and valuable.


  • Bring up an activity that you consider one that you “Don’t enjoy, but is necessary” in your life, whether big or small.  This is one that does not feel pleasant AND you have no control over the fact that it has to be done and you are the only person who can do it (as opposed to the “Don’t enjoy and not necessary” set of activities that could be done by somebody else or are not necessary).
  • Notice your body sensations as you ponder the “Don’t enjoy” activity.
  • Reperceive this situation by looking for an element or aspect that is pleasant OR valuable within it, no matter how small.
      • BE with that element.
      • What would you DO if that were your primary motivation?
  • Notice your body sensations as you ponder the element or aspect.
  • Notice your body sensations as you act as if this were your primary motivation.

See Lynn’s Dad and the Doctor Visits story if you would like an example of how one person changed her approach to a challenging activity.

© Copyright 2013 Maria Hunt
Scroll to Top