“To act in everything with the highest motives . . .” (Helen Keller).

THOSE WHO ACT WITH HONORABLE MOTIVES ARE ADMIRED FOR DOING SO. Even when someone’s deeds have been less than satisfactory, we understand that it makes a positive difference if we can say “They meant well” or “Their intentions were good.” Why is that so? Is it not because a person’s “heart” is more basic to their character than their “hands”? What we do is important, without a doubt, but what we are trying to do is even more important. That being true, it’s a healthy exercise to examine our motives from time to time. Why are we doing what we do? Are our reasons as good as they can be? Are there any adjustments we need to make in our motives?

Aristotle said, “All that we do is done with an eye to something else.” Every action is prompted by some motive, and we must accept that fact. The question is not whether we have any motives but only what they are. Rather than deny that we have any motives, we need to be honest about their nature — and then work on improving them if necessary. There is no improvement better than the improvement of our motives, but we can’t improve them if we’re in denial about them.

But (and here is where it gets tricky) what are our motives for wanting to improve our motives? Do we wish others to think well of us? Do we wish to think well of ourselves? Neither of these is necessarily wrong, but there is a higher consideration, and that is the objective, unchanging standard of what is right. We should want to think and do what is right because it is right. And it is right to want to do so!

There are few things more powerful or beneficial than “motive force.” When a person’s actions are fired by motives that are important to them, there is virtually no limit to what they can accomplish. And if their motives are not only important to them but right in regard to the universal moral code, the results are even more astounding. For that reason, it pays to be careful about our motives. If we want to be more highly motivated, we need to elevate the quality of our motives. The higher they are, the more powerful they will be. And when we operate from the very highest motives of all, great mountains become moveable and unbearable burdens become easy to carry.

“When the will is ready, the feet are light” (George Herbert).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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