The Story of Two Wells

Two wells of motivation exist in life. One is easy to find but shallow. The other is difficult to find but unfathomable.

“There is no reason to believe any longer that only irrelevant ‘play’ can be enjoyed, while the serious business of life must be borne as a burdensome cross. Once we realize that the boundaries between work and play are artificial, we can take matters in hand and begin the difficult task of making life more livable.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Two wells of motivation exist in life.

One is easy to find but shallow. The other is difficult to find but unfathomable.

Most people eagerly send their buckets down the shallow well, only to find them empty or with barely a trickle of water. The bucket comes back full on rare occasions with no rhyme or reason as to why.

And yet, they return to the shallow well day after day, over and over again, with nary a thought for seeking out the other well. The pain of disappointment does not deter them. Just enough water is found to sustain life.

That other well is elusive. Some wonder if it even exists. I dare say it is enshrouded in myth, a story told yet never experienced.

Those few who seek out the unfathomable well never return. Each disappearance serves only to further deepen the myth, to invite yet more speculation and mystery. Some say they have lost their way or worse, while a scarce few are emboldened by the possibilities of adventure.

What none of them know is those deemed lost have, in fact, found the deep well, where the water drawn is limited only by strength and stamina. Life is not merely sustained in this place, it is lived.

The secret to finding the unfathomable well is to simply skip along, play, delight in small moments and flow from one exciting discovery to the next. For you see, this well is only visible to a child's eyes.

It is the well of intrinsic motivation. You reach it through play that establishes flow.

Do you remember those past moments of flow, those dreamy times, when your attention was utterly consumed and you lost track of time?

You found the well but did not know it. You drew from its depths but assumed it was the more fickle, shallow well of extrinsic motivation. The truth is that we have all found the unfathomable well, but only those who favor play over work ever return of their own accord.

Play more. Work less. Don't just sustain life. Live it!