Motivation: Emotional or Mental State?

I am someone who is really interested in motivation. In fact, I have read a lot of books about the topic. This is because I am always looking for ways to be more productive. As I’ve been looking at motivation, I noticed the topic of motivation as an emotional state and mental state. Some are wondering which is correct. Is motivation an emotion or a mental state. Let’s find out.

Motivation can be emotional and mental. The difference between the two is the source of motivation and how long they last. Motivation from emotional sources usually changes at a rapid pace while motivation from a mental state is usually more permanent.

Let’s admit it, there are times where we are just not motivated to do things. This happens because motivation is an emotional state. This means that it is greatly affected by emotions. Once your strong emotion to get motivated goes down, so is your motivation.

Furthermore, motivation for a mental state is quite different. Those are the people that are motivated inside. While emotion is still in play, the source of their emotion is something deeper that it became a mental state. We are going to discuss both of them in this article.

Is Motivation Mental or Emotional?

Motivation is both mental and emotional. The difference between motivation as mental and motivation as emotional is how deep its relation is to the individual. Furthermore, motivation on the emotional side can easily change while motivation from a mental state is hard to change.

If you’ve seen someone who really worked hard on reaching their goals, it is quite impossible that they only used the emotional side of motivation.

When you asked someone who worked really hard and succeed, you can see someone with an extreme work ethic because there is something more that builds up their motivation.

As someone in the blogging industry, I have heard of someone who built her business in only 3 months. In the blogging industry, that is something considered as a miracle.

She became a full-time earner in just 3 months because of her extreme work ethic.

In the interview, she made 200 articles in a span of 3 months. That’s what we call extreme work ethic, and ordinary emotional motivation can’t do something like that.

I have seen a lot of bloggers who are very motivated, built their first site and then stopped producing articles after making 10.

Did you see the difference?

The first who succeeded had a greater motivation inside of her. The source of her motivation is her mental state while most have emotion as the basis of their motivation.

In the interview, she was asked why she did that and why she made 200 articles and what made her motivated.

She just said this: “I am a single mother of 2 kids. I know I have to make a better future for them alone.”

Her motivation is not from a motivational video clip or song. Her motivation is from something deeper that her mental state is different. She is motivated because she wants a better future for her family. That is different from someone motivated because of watching motivational videos.

That is the difference. Her motivation is deep within her that her mental state turned into motivation. She wants a good future with her 2 kids. That’s motivation as a mental state.

The other types of bloggers that made 10 articles then lost motivation and give up are usually the ones with emotion as the source of their motivation.

But you don’t need something like that to work on your goals and use motivation to your advantage. I have an article discussing how can you have motivation without emotions which is what I am using. I am not someone who watches motivational clips and there are moments where I just don’t feel like working like a lot of us.

But I discussed in this article what helped me: Can you have motivation without emotion?

Now that you’ve understood the two motivation source, let’s discuss them one by one.

Motivation as a Mental State

The motivation that came from a mental state is one of the hardest motivations to break. People with motivation from their mental state will usually have a strong work ethic because they are working for a big reason. But this type motivation is hard to obtain.

As you can see in the example of the blogger who made a full time income in 3 months, her motivation is not something you will get from magazines or any videos.

It is something bigger. Something that involves a big part of their lives.

That’s why you will see people not giving up even if the odds are against them. Why you will see others who are working full time jobs and at the same time studying in a university.

Their goals are so big that the source of their motivation is not something as easy as a simple emotion. It is their mental state that tells them to do things.

Motivation from a mental state initially comes from emotions. But the emotion became too strong that it was made into their mental state.

People that have this motivation usually experienced a very strong set of emotions like what we’ve seen. She really wants to give her family a bright future, she is a single parent thus she wants to do something with everything she got.

While this might seem a good motivation to have, it is hard to obtain. Only a few people can have this type of motivation because it is really hard to take in too much emotion as an individual.

Only the people with extreme grit can accomplish things with this type of motivation.

Now let’s go to motivation as an emotion.

Motivation as an Emotion

Motivation that came from emotion is the easiest source of motivation we can obtain. Motivation from emotions can easily be obtained by watching motivational videos or music that hits us in the emotional level. It is often used to give sudden burst of motivation in order for people to start working.

While motivation from a mental state is hard to obtain, motivation from emotion is very easy to get.

In fact, most people who feel really motivated came from this type of motivation. It is no wonder why people confuse motivation with only emotions.

It is simply because it usually came from that.

However, it is not a good one to develop for the long term. If you want to still have motivation without the need for too much emotion, then I recommend you read my other article on how to do it: Can you have motivation without emotion?

Here is a table differentiating motivation from a mental state and motivation from emotions:

Motivation From Mental StateMotivation from Emotions
AcquisitionVery hard to obtainEasy to Obtain
DurationLong-Lasting (Months, Years, Decades)Short Duration (Days, Weeks)
SustainabilityVery easy to maintainHard to Maintain
VariabilityHard to ChangeEasy to Change
Table differentiating Motivation from Emotion and Mental State

The next section is about what is the most motivating emotion. This is because as we said, motivation from a mental state came from strong emotions.

Thus, if you really want to know how to get that strong emotion. then the easiest one will be stated in this article.

What is the most motivating emotion?

The most motivating emotion is fear. Fear is a very strong emotion that individuals usually try whatever it takes to stop things that causes fear from happening. It comes from the avoidance and prevention type of motivation which greatly affects a person’s mindset.

In the example above, you can see that the reason for her motivation to make a lot of articles is that she wants a brighter future for her kids.

If you analyze her reason, she said that the reason for that is because she is a single mother.

This is the classic example of fear.

She is scared that she doesn’t have anyone to rely on since she is a single mother. Another is that she is scared that she can’t give a bright future to her children.

Thus, she will do whatever it takes to succeed in life.

Fear is a big factor in every one’s life. It drives us to do whatever it takes to stop things we fear from happening.

You will see more people with a success story tell this over and over again how they felt so helpless and they don’t want their current situation as their life.

So they did whatever it took to change it.

The greatest source of motivation is fear. It is fear that makes people work too much. People are scared of losing things.

In my life, one of the biggest fear I have is that I will remain working in my field. I am a Clinical Laboratory Scientist by profession but I don’t really like my job.

That is why, that fear became my motivation to start this website. It is my fear that made me write more than a hundred articles as of this writing.

Even without knowledge on how to write, I started writing and made myself better every time. I started learning about websites and how do I maintain it.

Because of fear as the greatest source of motivation, I was able to reach this.

That’s why I said that motivation from a mental state is hard for some people to take. This is because we are talking about fear.

People will do every thing to avoid fear and that involves the act of thinking about fear.


Jason Ong is a YouTuber and the one who owns this site. He shares what he learned with people and makes videos if necessary. He was a former lecturer. The things he taught are topics related to Clinical Laboratory Science or what others call Medical Technology. Right now, he is also working part-time in an app company as a production supervisor. You can visit his YouTube Channel on

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