Tag Archives: Learning

Pleasure with Pain

If you break motivation down into it’s simplest form, we are motivated to either seek pleasure or avoid pain.  Now I know many of you are rejecting that, saying that you are much more complex than that but stick with me for a minute.  Pleasure can include everything from a taste of a delicious juicy hamburger with tempura fried bacon on it (yes, tempura fried bacon exists, I’ve had it and I’m obsessed) to love.  Pleasure includes security and peace.  Pleasure can also include spirituality.  Pain on the other hand isn’t just limited to physical pain.  It can include fear, embarrassment, social rejection, insecurity, hungry, loneliness, etc.  The list can go on quite a while.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t so simple as that.  How do you stack up pleasure that will happen six months from now vs. pain happening today, for example dieting and exercising for six months so that you can look good for the upcoming high school reunion?  How do trade off one pain vs. another, for example my back hurts right now and I know 30 minutes of stretching will help…..but I don’t really like the stretching either?  How do you exchange one pleasure for one pain, for example spending on a big celebration when money is tight?

It is ok to allow our subconsciousness to handle these decisions of which pleasure to seek and which pain to avoid as long as we are ok with the outcomes.  Really, your subconscious is making hundreds of decisions a day and you don’t want to get stuck in trying to analyze each and everyone.  When you are not happy with your situation, whether it be financial, relationship, health, etc., stop and consider which decisions are leading you in the wrong direction and why you are making that decision.  It might be helpful to try to frame those decisions in a trade off between pleasures and pain.  You might have to ask yourself “why” a few times because most people are slow to admit what is really going on in their decision making.  Once you understand the tradeoffs, then work to enhance different pleasures, minimize different pains and (frequently) work to pull future pleasure into the moment.

Examples help.  I was telling the truth, my back is killing me right now.  It is a chronic issue that comes back a few times a year.  This one is as bad as it has gotten in probably the last five years.  Nothing to do but stretches.  My wife has a yoga video that does wonders for my back…….but I really don’t enjoy it.  So I have a literal pain, my back.  Seems like I should be able to jump up and fire up that video.  Why aren’t I?  Well, I know from experience the yoga tape won’t make my back feel better right away.  So the pain avoidance isn’t really an immediate pay off.  I find yoga to be pretty boring.  I know my yoga loving friends tell me I’m not doing it right if I’m not loving it but I don’t love it.  There is a certain level of mental pain that comes along with doing yoga for me.

So how do I motivate myself to go do those stretches, well in this case I brought in another pain, social embarrassment.  By writing and posting this, I sort of have to go do the yoga.  If I don’t, I’ll be a bit embarrassed that I let my laziness and procrastination let me sit here in pain.  Alright.  I’m going to go do some downward dogs.

Comment if you need some help affecting change.  Please share.  Imagine the pleasure you’ll get if this helps someone you know.

Advertisements

“That’s what I was doing!”

We were at a pool over the weekend and a child was getting a private swimming lesson from one of the lifeguards.  The kid was working to pass the deep end test but couldn’t quite get his backstroke right.  The lifeguard told the boy, “Point your toes, when you kick.”  The boy yelled, “That’s what I was doing!”  That is the point when the boy stopped learning and improving.  He was insistent that he was doing everything right, despite not getting the results he wanted.

How many times do we do that as adults?  Whether it is from a boss, spouse, friend or co-worker, how many times has someone given us a positive critic but we took it as criticism.  Sometimes it hurts to say that we aren’t doing something right.  Sometimes it is hard to admit that we need to do better.  Growth is hard but we can do it.  Sometimes all we have to do is listen.

“Just stop,” the most useless advice

Ever try to break a habit?  It isn’t as easy as simply not doing the habit.  It is incredibly difficult to “just stop” but why is that?  Habits are actually hardwired into our brains.  According to Ann Graybiel and Kyle Smith in Good Habits, Bad Habits explain how the brain builds a closed loop.  Simply choosing to NOT do the task is actually you working against your brain.  Even motivation isn’t that helpful.

scientificamerican0614-38-I5

To stop doing a habit, it is important to understand the environmental triggers and create work arounds.  First, try to minimize triggers.  Second, start with the easier to eliminate habits first.  Third, build strategies to distract yourself.  Even making a habit 20 seconds harder to do can make a big difference.  Fourth, measure your actions and the results.  Fifth, be realistic.  It probably took you years to build a habit.  It will take time to eliminate it.  You will have setbacks.  That’s ok.  Just restart the process and keep moving forward.

Your reaction is greater than your situation

Excerpt from Greater Than, on sale at Amazon for 99 cents today and tomorrow:

My wife once told me about a man who was given a tour of Heaven and Hell.  In Hell, many gaunt and miserable people sat at long tables filled with wonderful food.  The people were trying to eat with three-foot-long chopsticks.  The food would drop to the floor before they were able to take a bite, so they starved.  Apparently there is no five second rule in hell and you can’t eat with your fingers.  I asked.  My wife said, “No.”  In Heaven, they sat at the similar tables with similar food and similar three-foot-long chopsticks.  They were happy, singing and well fed.  What was the difference between Heaven and Hell you ask?  I’m so glad you asked because the rest of this chapter would be rather dull if you hadn’t asked.  The difference was that while in Hell the people were trying and failing to feed themselves, in Heaven they were feeding each other.  Each person would put a bite of food on the long chopstick and feed it to the person across from them.

What do we learn from this story, other than it is sometimes permissible to eat with your hands?  First, yes, working together is a wonderful thing.  Kumbaya and all that.  Second and why I’ve brought it up in a chapter about the importance of your reactions, is that the situation in both Heaven and Hell were both exactly the same.  The difference was the reactions people had to their situation.  The more positive and proactive your reaction, the better the final outcome.  The reaction of people literally made the difference between Heaven and Hell.

Just 10 Ideas

I was listening to a pod cast with James Altucher.  He explained one of his daily tasks that I thought was worth sharing.  Every day he writes down ten ideas.  He may write down ten ideas about how he can grow his business, ten ideas how have a better relationship with his wife or even ten ideas on how Coke could make its products better.  It doesn’t matter, just write down ten ideas.

There are two big benefits from this.  First, James does this to keep his problem solving skills fresh.  Second, this is a way to force yourself to stretch your own ideas.  If you spend a few days writing down ideas on how to solve your client’s problem, you are going to come up with some new and good ideas.  Sure, you will come up with a lot of tired or even bad ideas but that is ok.  This practice is similar to the 20 ideas in 20 minutes I’ve written about and have suggested to my clients in the past.  Those that actually do it have pushed themselves to new levels.

I think the ten a day will be a little less stressful and longer lasting.  I start today.

Free book for New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve made my book Greater Than available for free on Amazon for a limited time.  While Greater Than is a made for anyone seeking to achieve more in their life, it is very relevant for someone trying to make and keep resolutions.

This free offer is only available for a few days, so please take advantage of it.  Do you know someone who needs a little help with getting started?  Share Greater Than with them, especially now that it is free.  We could all use some help some times.

Greater Than – First book in The Little Book Series For Big Success published

Christmas seems like a wonderful day to publish my first book in The Little Book Series For Big Success.  Each book in the series can be read in under an hour, so that you can immediately start applying the tools and techniques to start improving your life and reaching your goals.  Great Than is build on the philosophy that starting small and starting immediately is the most effective way to make massive and yet sustainable longterm improvements in your life.  The book covers a lot of different topics and gets straight to tools you can start using today.  It is a great book for making your New Year’s Resolutions stick for the first time.  Check it out on Amazon here: Greater Than.