I think there’s a difference between doing what you know you need to do and doing what you think you need to do based on the opinions you’re surrounded by.
That may be what your friends means with “extrinsic motivation” — people tell him to meditate, or he’s picked up somewhere that it’s a good thing to do, because, duh. He tells himself to do it, and when he finds that it’s actually pretty hard, he tells himself it’s just not what he’s “called” to do right now.
So, yes, you’re absolutely right, just as you eloquently explain. It’s very uncomfortable starting a practice like this and sticking with it.
But he’s also right. Maybe he isn’t doing it for the right reasons. Maybe he is only doing it because people tell him he’ll be a better person for it.
And that’s a big issue. Yes, he feels discomfort as he tries to commit to meditating, and people love rationalizing their feelings and behavior to fit their desire to escape that. But it’s possible he also feels discomfort because something tells him he needs to meditate to be enough. Even “wanting to meditate” can be abused to fill an emotional void.
Which brings me to the highlighted text above. Tricks can do wonders for people who have the emotional security for it. For others, they exacerbate the initial problem. Punishment and rewards left their marks during childhood and bring up the same feelings of unworthiness with every slight infraction.
It’s not your place to tell him what he needs to do to “be better”. In fact, your response to his inability to commit says more about you than about him, just as this response to your article says a lot about me. It triggered me because I’ve been where you described there many times. (Yeah, I totally get your exasperation. Sounds pretty annoying.)
If all the motivation your friend has to “be better” comes from others, and he isn’t experiencing the effects of not meditating on a daily basis, well, from where he’s standing, he really doesn’t need to change a thing.
He was telling you he isn’t ready. And it’s okay not to be ready. Meditating is difficult. Kudos to you for sticking it out. But his life isn’t your life. Maybe in the future sometime, he’ll get it, and then he’ll want to stick to it. Maybe he won’t. It’s not up to you.