Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters,
pain and pleasure –
they govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think:
every effort we can make to throw off our subjection,
will serve but to demonstrate and confirm.
– Jeremy Bentham
I’VE DISCOVERED A PAIN PATTERN
I have a group of powerful and hard-hitting businessmen I meet with on a regular basis. We discuss our goals, motivate each other to succeed, and hold each other accountable for both our glorious wins and our damning losses.
I’ve started noticing something very interesting about each of them lately. A pattern. A trend. A habit.
And then I discovered that nearly everyone else I encountered is doing the same thing.
Most people are afraid of pain,
but they specify their goals for success in the context of avoiding that pain.
Most people desire pleasure,
but that feeling of delight is not enough to motivate them to actually get off their butts and do anything at all.
PLEASURE HAS NOT BEEN ENOUGH TO MOTIVATE YOU . . . UNTIL NOW
In the past, most of you have believed that, by seeking pleasure rather than avoiding pain, you will be seeking personal benefits over anything else. And you’ve somehow been taught that’s a bad thing. So what do you do?
You set yourself up for a variety of pain points and,
in doing so, usually sacrifice your shot at a future, greater pleasure.
So how would your life be different if, instead of primarily avoiding pain, you sought to maximize your pleasure all the time?
Your answer to this question is truly important.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU, DEFINES YOU
A curious thing happens when you get to the point in your personal and professional life when you start to perceive pain as pleasing. When that happens – and I’ve seen this far too many times to think it accidental – your internal voice changes. The way you talk to yourself starts to crackle a bit and becomes distorted from the clear vision you once had. It’s like listening to a static filled phone conversation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that as far back as Aristotle it was said, “The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.”
I’m just concerned that, for most of us, we have developed into a society that stops taking action that will lead to success because our fear of pain has immobilized us. Jumping from one one pain avoidance to another becomes like a game. We can’t wait to commiserate with a colleague over drinks or at our desks. It’s almost as if we’re in a my-pain-can-beat-your-pain mode most of the time.
So, let me say this, again: WHAT MOTIVATES YOU, DEFINES YOU.
It’s time to start talking to yourself better, don’t you think? In other words, it’s time for you to start teaching yourself how to treat yourself better.
IT’S TIME TO BE SELFISH
That’s right – selfish (with a small “s”). I don’t mean selfish in the inconsiderate, ungenerous way. But in a way that forces you to extinguish your bad habits of short-term pain avoidance, pain-induced decision making, and pain-ridden restraint.
Look, if you’re pain avoidance is serving you well, ignore everything I’m writing about. I don’t think it is, though. And I think you’re ready for a change; a redefining of what works and does not work for you. I think you’ve been waiting for quite some time for permission to live a life of pleasure. Well, I declare it here and now:
YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO LIVE A LIFE OF DELIGHT AND ENJOYMENT!
To live such a life, though, you have to make a conscious choice to reframe and redefine what you have previously believed about pain and pleasure. The formula is easy to understand and yet challenging to actually implement.
Here it is . . .
THE UNEASY TRUTH AND A STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
The most important step is to specify what pleasure really means for you.
What brings you satisfaction? What brings you delight? What brings you joy?
And how do you “do” pleasure? That’s right: “do.” Pleasure doesn’t just happen to you. It’s something you engage in or make a conscious choice to have happen.
It’s a participation sport, if you will.
Still can’t put your finger on what pleasure means for you? You’re not alone.
Most of us go through life asking the following question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” We cipher the worst-case scenario out in all its glorious, terrorizing detail. And then we spend the rest of the time looking under the bed, staying clear of the dark closet, worried that our past skeletons will start rattling, and planning for disaster. We’ve been looking for things that haven’t happened yet but might happen and which might cause us pain so we do all we can to avoid that collision with distress.
What would be different if, instead, you started asking – first and foremost – “What’s the best that can happen?” And what if you then started preparing for the “best” to happen?
Can you see what I’m getting at? My guess is that many of you won’t. And that’s okay. The few that do are in for a life-changing experience.
So for those of you who are still with me: take a moment and write out all those things that are worth your effort to attain, do, obtain, and acquire.
And, once you’ve determined where your effort is best spent, then fathom out the “because” behind each one of them. For example, making tons of money might bring you pleasure BECAUSE you will be able to care for your family in the style you believe they should be taken care of in.
All of this, of course, is a highly personal determination and I’ll warn you now that sharing this with anyone else can end in disaster simply because someone else won’t understand. So keep what you find to yourself.
One more thing, I want you to understand that this is all designed to change your perspective of what motivates you. This is subjective. I don’t want you using this technique to promote yourself, position your business, or grow your career. For these latter things, you’re still better off finding other people’s pain and showing them how you can solve that for them.
Remember, everyone else is still doing all they can to avoid pain. You now have the tools to seek your pleasure by solving what they think is hurting them.
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