Some call Buddhism psychology, so maybe it can help -- me.

This sense that doing something -- let's take a difficult but generic example, learning sanskrit -- is a wonderful, exciting idea; but one never gets started with it, because there is no tangible psychological or material benefit from it -- for whatever reason [you won't find anyone new to talk with, most texts are in translation, no-one will care, etc.].

What remedy is there for this?

  • I don't understand this question. Are you asking about a remedy for lack of motivation?
    – user11699
    May 9, 2020 at 19:02
  • yes, but i am also describing exactly what sort of lack of motivation i mean @Erik
    – user2512
    May 9, 2020 at 19:03
  • or at least framing it
    – user2512
    May 9, 2020 at 19:05
  • Nyom likes to know reasonings for learn worldly skills, maybe languages, right?
    – user11235
    May 10, 2020 at 6:09
  • You seem to be thinking clearly. What are you trying to find a remedy for? Is there some part of you that thinks you should learn Sanskrit? .
    – user14119
    May 11, 2020 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


From the article "Two Exercises for Turning Intention into Motivation" by Thupten Jinpa on Buddhist site tricycle.org, we see some useful tips on how to motivate yourself to do a task that you set yourself to do.

He states that "parents who have struggled with their child taking up a new instrument will recognize how everything changed the moment the child began enjoying it." Basically you need to find a way to enjoy what you're doing - this is intrinsic motivation. When you enjoy it, the rest comes naturally.

You can try the two exercises on this page.

The question of how we motivate ourselves to pursue our deeper aspirations has been a major interest in the long history of Buddhist psychology. In Buddhist thinking, motivation is a matter of desire, more specifically the desire to act accompanied with a sense of purpose. Say, in the case of being more compassionate, it’s by making emotional connection with compassion and its objectives that we arouse in ourselves the desire to act. And it’s through seeing the benefits that we acquire a sense of purpose in being more compassionate.

Contemporary psychology has only relatively recently come to appreciate the role of emotions in motivating our behavior. For a long time, the Western theory of action was dominated by rational choice theory, and emotions were accused of clouding the process rather than being an integral part of the system. To articulate the dual dimension of our motivation—cognitive awareness of and emotional connection with our goals—Buddhist psychology uses a term that is almost impossible to capture in any single word in English. The Sanskrit term shraddha (depa in Tibetan) has a broad range of meaning, the important ones being “faith,” “trust,” “belief,” or “confidence,” connoting “appreciation” and “admiration” as well. Shraddha is a felt sense like trust, rather than a cognitive state like belief or knowledge. Experientially, shraddha feels something like attachment or attraction to our goal, like being inspired to play guitar when you see a rock star do it. It’s this quality, shraddha, that primes our heart and mind to roll up our sleeves and play.

How do we tap our emotional reservoir? Cognitions play a critical role, which the early Buddhist texts characterize as seeing the value of doing something. Through cognitive engagement, such as seeing the benefits, we connect intention with motivation. So, within this causal nexus, the crucial link to watch for is the one between our awareness of the goal and why we would go for it, our feelings about the goal, and our desire or will to pursue it.

Then, again, it’s the joy we take in our efforts—the courage to try, the dedication to stick with it—and their results that helps sustain our motivations over the long run. Or, in other words, makes us want to keep trying and keep doing it. Parents who have struggled with their child taking up a new instrument will recognize how everything changed the moment the child began enjoying it. This is called intrinsic motivation, as opposed to the extrinsic motivation of, for example, the parent rewarding the child with more screen time for practicing her instrument. From decades of motivation research, we know that intrinsic motivation is far more stable and enduring. The process of setting intentions and joyfully reflecting on them in dedication is how, over time, we transform extrinsic into intrinsic motivations, and thereby sustain the energy and purpose to live true to our best aspirations.

  • 1
    incidentally, my mother suggested lower your expectations -- it won't be as motivating as you think. thanks
    – user2512
    May 10, 2020 at 8:51
  • 2
    @sorta_buddhist My music teacher told me he wanted me to practice for five minutes every day -- that 5 minutes a day of practice is better than half an hour once per week -- and I can't say "I don't have time" to practice for just 5 minutes. He also set me to learning (enjoyable) tunes rather than (boring) exercises like playing scales. When I did, then I found my skill improved, not day by day but week by week -- and that (success) enables motivation to continue.
    – ChrisW
    May 10, 2020 at 9:15
  • just to add -- might it be and the answer link to something about the need for shared -- rather than personal -- meaning?
    – user2512
    May 14, 2020 at 10:58

According to Buddhism, faith in something is the foundation of motivation.

he places conviction in him. With the arising of conviction, he visits him & grows close to him. Growing close to him, he lends ear. Lending ear, he hears the Dhamma. Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises. With the arising of desire, he becomes willing. Willing, he contemplates (lit: "weighs," "compares"). Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.


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