Alan Bishop wants to know: Which choice leads you down the path?
I believe we have two driving forces in our lives. Two powerful motivators that cause our every action. Two choices you might say. Those two choices are:
- Our need to avoid pain
- Our desire to gain pleasure
Every action we take is a result of one of those two choices. Think about it!
Ultimate Pain? What is that for you?
Ultimate Pleasure? What’s that?
It’s a great set of questions. If you could identify your ultimate pain or ultimate pleasure wouldn’t you do everything in your power to avoid one and gain the other? Of course you would.
“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” – Tony Robbins
And for all of you thinking “There can’t be pleasure without some pain” — change that thought.
Get rid of it because it isn’t serving you. Pain will come in some way but for heavens sakes don’t encourage it. These two driving forces are so powerful that literally each waking minute of the day we’re feeding one or the other. We either move forward towards pleasure or away from pain. The complexities in which we do this are mind-blowing, especially since each one of us is different. Those seeking to BE BETTER must investigate these responses within themselves and learn to understand them. Find a way to “Fight those Demons Inside” instead of letting them take over our lives.
Our Own Genius
A definition of Genius – “A genius is someone who focuses their actions in a consistent way to get a result that they are committed to”.
“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Unless we’re neurologically broken, we all have the capacity to be geniuses. We might all have the capacity but we also have the ability to incapacitate or immobilize ourselves on this road to genius. On this road to focused action and committed results, sometimes we find the road not so simple. It isn’t as easy as all the books say. It’s painful even.
It’s painful because sometimes we think that taking the ACTION needed will cause us more pain. We fall into the trap of not taking action in the false belief that by not taking action we will experience less pain than the act of taking the action needed to get us where we need and want to go.
It’s a vicious cycle and we’re sabotaging ourselves.
I’ve seen many successful people who are professionals at personal sabotage. You only have to open the newspaper or listen to the nightly news to hear about another Celebrity/Athlete/Politician who’s been brought to their knees by their own sabotage.
How can this be?
These people have money, success, fame, loyal followers, helpers and even therapists? How can they possibly fail?
It’s the things that they associate with pleasure and pain that bring them down.
If someone isn’t getting their way or what they want from you, they may act negatively to get your attention. That gives them them pleasure. If you’re ignoring them, they can’t get what they want. Positive action didn’t work so now they up the ante and give you negative action. WHY, because maybe you’ll take notice. When you do take notice viola they’ve had their need met and this gives them pleasure.
Somewhere, somehow, over time they’ve made associations that aren’t healthy or productive for themselves.
We’ve all witnessed the scene where the child in the playground doesn’t want to leave the park. They scream, wail, cry and pretty much do everything in their power to get their parents to change their mind about leaving. They want to continue to play because playing gives them pleasure. The short-term pain of crying and wailing is a way to bring them back to the pleasure of play. If the parent continually reinforces this behaviour by caving in and returning the child to play then the association of crying and wailing becomes deeply imbedded into the child’s brain.
Or how about the man who wants to make love to his wife. He’s been drinking, she’s not into it, emotions rise. Soon he tries to force himself onto her and in response, she slaps him across the face. He doesn’t punch her but in a fit of rage puts his hand through the wall instead. His hand is cut, broken and bleeding. His wife cleans, sets and bandages his hand all the while soothing him with soft words and kisses. Soon they’re making love.
See the similarities. Perhaps the man and the child are the same person?
These associations are powerful.
“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.” – Aristotle
Chances are you’ve probably procrastinated once or twice before? Right. Of course you have. We all have. But if you’re a chronic procrastinator you might be slowly immobilizing yourself and creeping towards a very unhappy future. Why is this? We all “know better” but for some reason at times we can’t seem to shake ourselves out of the rut?
The reality is that when we procrastinate we think that taking ACTION will be more painful than doing nothing. We’ve associated taking ACTION with pain and the belief that by not taking action we will receive more pleasure.
Reading this you know it’s crazy thinking, but it’s undeniably true. We do this lunacy day in and day out.
We know in our heads that by taking action towards our goals, dreams and the things we really want we will undoubtably gain more pleasure. We know this. The REALITY though, is the thing that’s most real to you is the pain that you’ll have to go through to reach the pleasure.
Here’s an example from my life.
I love fitness and the pleasure it gives me. I’m better and those around me are better when that need gets met. Fitness in my life means “Being Strong to Be Useful” and I maintain this state by eating well, resting properly and challenging my body physically and mentally.
Since June I’ve been dealing with an injury. It’s one of those annoying, frustrating and insanity inducing injuries which came out of nowhere? I went from feeling as STRONG AND USEFUL as I’ve ever been in my life, to being unable to even hang off a chin up bar (and I LOVE Chin ups).
It’s infuriating and incapacitating all at the same time. I pride myself on being smart with my training. As an older athlete I’ve learned that the key to performing is being able to “stay in the game”. I train with this goal in mind, hence “Be Strong to be Useful”.
It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve come to accept and understand this “Pain vs Pleasure” dilemma going on in my life. I’ve been embracing the pain unable to even see the pleasure.
Let me explain.
Training, fitness and helping others to Become Better versions of themselves is something that gives me absolute pleasure. I love helping others do great things. Since the phantom injury surfaced I’ve slowly been reducing the training that I’ve been doing and in turn this has impacted the time I’ve spent helping others. I haven’t trained this sparsely in over 5 years. The reduction in my training time could have been spent MAXIMIZING the time I had to help others. Instead…
I’ve been “embracing the suck”. I’ve been focusing on the PAIN.
Why did this happen to me?
It’s not fair!
I can’t train!
I now have time to embrace Yoga.
I can embrace running.
Let me focus on others…
The pain of inaction was incapacitating me.
I know I’m not alone in this thinking.
We can change this. Our actions take us towards pain or towards pleasure.
When we look at our daily behaviors we must analyse which ones drive us? Which ones are we associated with more? Are we getting closer to pleasure or closer to pain? Lately I’ve found out what was driving me and I’m better for asking myself the question.
How about you? Pain versus pleasure. What’s driving you down the path?
Photo Credit: (main image) By Sander Weeteling