This provides a rough index of the centrality of each motivational theme within the person's overall goal hierarchy. Power and intimacy strivings reflect the broader motivational orientations of agency and communion. Intimacy strivings reflect a concern for establishing deep and mutually gratifying relationships, whereas power strivings reflect a desire to influence others and have impact on them. The ability to engage in close intimate relationships based on trust and affection is the hallmark of psychosocial maturity and a key component to psychological growth (Ryff, 1989). Empirical research has documented the powerful effect of attachments on health and well-being (see Myers, 2000, for a review). On the other hand, persons who are primarily power-oriented and who possess many agentic strivings--to impress or control others--appear to be at risk for lower well-being and poorer physical health. In a recent study examining social motives and distress in gay men differing in HIV status, power strivings were positively related to distress scores (a composite of anxiety and depression) in HIV-positive men (Igreja, Zuroff, Koestner, & Saltaris, 2000). He went from being a funny guy on a show to a mega-bankable movie star. He went from being unhealthy and overweight to looking like one of the fittest leading men in Hollywood. What I love about him is that he had 100 percent conviction in himself. He was getting this done when maybe other people didn't even think that he could. He worked so hard. He sweated it out at the gym. He got his mind right so he could eat right. He stopped going out and started taking care of himself. Because he cared. And if you ask him he will tell you, if he can do it, anybody can. Right off the bat, if you are an average American, you are plump, and your health is at risk. Millions of Americans are literally eating years off their lives by obesity. Consider how most of us attempt to address this vulnerability, and fail.
I'd bet that you know at least two dozen people in the last year or two who have taken the traditional routes--following diets, going to support groups, or going cross country to a weight rehab resort. The best scenario usually results in a weight change, sudden change of habits, but a few months later, the pounds are back. Note that in the traditional routes, the individual is making a solo effort. Even in the case of support groups, the individual must be able to self-motivate to take advantage of the group. Yet, more often than not, the individual is unable to maintain the regimen, skips meetings, and slides back into the bad habits that made them fat. As to following a diet, the intention might be there, but it is another thing to do the cooking and shopping for your meals, let alone have the discipline to stick to it. These solo efforts rarely work, and if you are one of the plump, you know this to be true. The authors of this study suggest that the ability to control and influence others is highly threatened by their physical state, and this leads to increased distress. Conversely, intimacy strivings were found to buffer HIV-positive individuals against distress by increasing the perceived availability of social support. Individuals high in power strivings may also be committing their lives primarily to obtaining extrinsic sources of satisfaction such as materialistic goals that fail to meet the basic needs for relatedness and autonomy (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Generativity strivings, defined as those strivings that involve creating, giving of oneself to others, and having an influence on future generations (McAdams & de St. Aubin, 1992) also seem to result in higher levels of life satisfaction and positive affect (Ackerman, Zuroff, & Moskowitz, 2000). Generativity is a concern for guiding and promoting the next generation through parenting, as well as through teaching, mentoring, counseling, leadership, and generating products that will survive the self and contribute positively to the next generation. Generativity is manifested both privately and publicly as an inner desire whose realization may promote healthy development and psychological and physical well-being. From a societal perspective, generativity is a valuable resource that may undergird social institutions, encourage citizen's contributions and commitments to the public good, motivate efforts to sustain continuity from one generation to the next, and initiate social change (McAdams & de St. Aubin, 1998, p 3). Although generativity is a concern for promoting the well-being of later generations, there is an immediate positive impact on the promoter's own well-being. He was 100 percent committed to driving on the autobahn. His transformation is inspirational. And he earned every bit of it.
Guys like this are role models. Learn from them. But again, you've got to be realistic about everything. Will. Desire. Discipline. It all repeats. Care soliciting might yield different results. In this case, you would care solicit from either your partner or a member of your support team to help you eat healthier and exercise daily. Most importantly, you would have to express to them that you are incapable of doing this by yourself--you have tried numerous times to no avail. Tell them you need their help and how they can help you. In the case of your partner, it might be that for the next month or two, he or she takes responsibility for shopping for the foods you can eat and maybe even prepare them for you-- it won't happen if you rely on yourself. Or you might ask a team member to start an exercise class with you--you've started many in the past but quickly drop out. The buddy system could be the support you need to achieve success, and the time spent together strengthens your friendship. What makes care soliciting difficult here is that you have to acknowledge your weakness--you do not have the ability to do this by yourself, and you fear that you might be refused the help you need. However, by acknowledging this weakness, and assuming you have a strong and mutually supportive relationship with your partner or team member, there is a good chance that your 911 call will be answered. Not having to do it by yourself takes the some of the burden off yourself and a lot of that extra weight off yourself, too. In a stratified sample of young, mid-life, and older adults, McAdams, de St. Aubin, and Logan (1993) found that generative concern was related to both greater reported happiness and life satisfaction and Keyes and Ryff (1998) found that higher levels of generative motives, behaviors, and traits each contributed to heightened levels of psychological and social well-being in a nationally representative sample. Although mid-life adults in their study showed the highest levels of generativity, there was no agecohort effect for generativity on happiness and satisfaction, suggesting that its tie to well-being is not age-specific.
Generative concerns most likely contribute to well-being by fostering behaviors and commitments that create and sustain positive interpersonal and transgenerational relationships (Ackerman et al, 2000). Spiritual strivings refer to goals that are oriented around the sacred. They are those personal goals that are concerned with ultimate purpose, ethics, commitment to a higher power, and a seeking of the divine in daily experience. This conception of spirituality is consistent with a number of theorists who, while acknowledging the diversity of meaning, affirm as a common core meaning of spirituality/religion that of the recognition of a transcendent, meta-empirical dimension of reality and the desire to establish a relationship with that reality. The scientific study of spirituality, long taboo in the behavioral sciences, is beginning to open up new vistas for understanding personal meaning, goal-striving, and subjective well-being. Given the prevalence of religion in society, it would be surprising if spiritual and religious concerns did not find expression in one form or another through personal goals. In our research, people differ in their tendency to attribute spiritual significance to their strivings, with percentages of spiritual strivings ranging from zero to nearly 50%, depending on the nature of the sample studied. Once I was working with a forty-five-year-old woman. We talked and we exercised and she didn't express a clear goal of what she wanted. So I told her to come back the next day with a picture of the kind of look she wanted to get from our training. The next day she came in with a photo of what was probably a seventeen-year-old girl and said she wanted to look like that. Do you think that is realistic? Do you think she would ever get that look? No, she was setting herself up to fail. You have to take a look at your body type and your age, and figure out what it is you can do with the body that you have. It works only one way, and that's forward. So how I do measure someone's progress? The physical differences (not social learning or cultural norms) between early man and woman led to gender-assigned roles in their culture. Since males are stronger than females, it would have made little sense for your female ancestors to hunt the giant bears, since their lesser physical strength would handicap them. Better they stay at home while the stronger males go on the week-long hunts.
Each sex had to play its role for the clan to thrive. The end result of this is that both sexes have become hardwired to think of themselves in gender-specific work roles. Males are hardwired to think of themselves as the provider and protector, while females are hardwired to think that their job is to take care of the kids and the home. Even in today's world, we see the persistence of our hardwiring roles. Men still seem to think of themselves as providers, and women still tend to think of themselves as homemakers. Indeed, many women feel guilty when they are career-oriented instead of marriage/familyoriented--on the mommy track. The evolutionary interpretation would be that the guilt stems from going against their hardwiring, against their nature. College males have the lowest level of avowed spiritual strivings, whereas elderly, church-going females tend to have the highest levels. Spiritual strivings are related to higher levels of SWB, especially to greater positive affect and to both marital and overall life satisfaction (Emmons, Cheung, & Tehrani, 1998). In the Emmons et al (1998) study, these relations were stronger for women than for men, in accord with the literature on gender differences in religion and SWB. Spiritual strivings were also rated as more important, requiring more effort, and engaged in for more intrinsic reasons than were nonspiritual strivings. Investing goals with a sense of sacredness confers on them a power to organize experience and to promote well-being that is absent in nonsacred strivings (Mahoney et al, 1999). Taken together, then, the findings on goal content and well-being indicate that when it comes to the positive life, not all goals are created equally (Ryan, Sheldon, Kasser, & Deci, 1996). Rather, certain clusters of goals consistently tend to foster higher levels of well-being than other types of goals. Intimacy, generativity, and spirituality are intrinsically rewarding domains of goal activity that render lives meaningful and purposeful, particularly compared to power strivings or strivings for self-sufficiency. Tillich (1951) spoke of existential disappointment, which he saw as the result of giving ultimate concern to that which is merely transitory and temporal. Each of these three goal types reflects an active engagement with the world, a sense of connectedness to others, to the future, to the transcendent, and thus contain a glimpse of eternity. Do I measure body fat? Not at all. I don't keep measuring devices around.