Thinking Magically™ | Why Your Pain is Pleasing (and how to stop doing that)

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 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.


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.


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.


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:


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 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.

If you enjoyed any of these articles, I’d be grateful if you click below to share this with others. That’s right, go ahead and help spread this information by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Thank you!

And make sure to sign up for my blog mailing list so you get all future postings delivered directly to your inbox.

© 2014 by Scott Grossberg. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Thinking Magically™ | Why Your Pain is Pleasing (and how to stop doing that)

  1. A believer’s perspective:
    “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Philippians 3:10).

    If we look on suffering as something to be avoided at all costs we will take no more of it than is forced upon us by our circumstances. In that case we will miss everything that is best in life. But if we take it as one of God’s gifts, as one of the means by which He is imprinting His image on our characters, we can more readily understand how suffering may be working out His purpose for our good, and so join with the Apostle in the prayer that we might be brought into full the fellowship of the suffering of the Captain of our Salvation, Who was Himself made perfect through suffering.

    W. T. Tunley
    Climb the Heights (1956)
    Page 34

  2. The Divine Weaver
    My Life is but a weaving
    He does His work in me;
    I cannot choose the colors
    He worketh steadily.

    Oft times He weaveth sorrow
    And I in foolish pride,
    Forget He sees the upper,
    And I the under side.

    Not till the loom is silent
    And the shuttles cease to fly,
    Shall God unroll the canvas
    And reveal the reason why.

    The dark threads are as needful
    In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
    As the threads of gold and silver
    In the pattern He has planned.

    I do not know what next may come
    Or what the morrow brings:
    But with the glad salute of faith,
    I hail its open wings!

    B.M. Franklin (1882-1965)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s