What makes a person with a “good background” behave so savagely and without remorse while another gives his own life to rescue strangers? Human beings are not random creatures; everything we do, we do for a reason. We may not be aware of the reason consciously, but there is undoubtedly a single driving force behind all human behavior. Everything you and I do; we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.
What keeps you from approaching that man or woman of your dreams? What keeps you from starting the new business you’ve been planning for years? Why do you keep putting off that diet? Why do you avoid completing your thesis? Why haven’t you taken control of your financial investment portfolio? What prevents you from doing whatever it takes to make your life exactly as you’ve imagined it?
Even though you know that all these actions would benefit you that they could be a pleasure to your life you fail an act simply because at that moment you associate more pain to doing what’s necessary than missing the opportunity. After all, if you approached that person, and they rejected you? What if you tried to start that new business but failed and lost the security you have in your present job? What if you started a diet and went through the pain of starving yourself, only to gain the weight back eventually anyway? What if you made an investment and lost your money? So why even try?
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 are in control of your life and if you don’t life controls you. Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain, and pleasure …… they govern us in all we do, in all we think: every matter effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it.
Let’s make some changes right now as first, write down four actions that you need to take that you’ve put off. Maybe you need to lose some weight. Maybe you need to stop smoking. Maybe you need to communicate with someone you’ve had a feeling out with or reconnect with someone important to you.
Second, under each of these actions write down the answers to the following questions: why haven’t I taken actions? In the past, what pain I have linked to taking this action? Answering these questions will help you understand that what has held you back is that you’ve associated greater pain to taking the action than to not taking it. Be honest with yourself. “If you are thinking, I have no pain associated with it,” think a little harder. Maybe the pain is simple: “maybe it’s the pain of taking time out of your busy schedule”.
Third, write down all the pleasure you’ve had in the past by indulging in the negative pattern. For example, if you think you should lose some weight, why have you continued to eat whole pans of brownies and bulk-size bags of chips, and to gazelle twelve-packs of soda pop? You’re avoiding the pain of depriving yourself, yes, and at the same time, you’re doing this because it makes you feel good right now. It gives you pleasure! Instant pleasure! No one wants to give up these feelings! To create a change that will last, we need to find a new way to find the same pleasure without having negative consequences. Identifying the pleasure, the pleasure you’ve been getting will help you know what your target is.
Fourth, write down what it will cost you if you don’t change now. What will happen if you don’t stop eating so much sugar and fat? If you don’t stop smoking? If you don’t make that phone call that you know you need to make? If you don’t start consistently working out each day? Be honest with yourself. What’s it going to cost you over the next two, four, five years? What’s going to cost you emotionally? What’s it going to cost you in terms of self-image? What will cost you financially? What will it cost you in your relationships with the people you care about most? How does that make you feel? Don’t just say, “it will cost me money” or “I will be fat.” That’s not enough. You’ve got to remember that what drives us in our emotions. So, get associated and use your pain as your friend, one that can drive you to a new level of success.
The final step is to write down all the pleasure you’ll receive by taking each of these actions right now. Make a huge list that will drive you emotionally, that will get you excited: “I’ll gain physical vitality and health. I’ll be able to strengthen all my self-confidence. I’ll gain physical vitality and health. I’ll be able to strengthen all my relationships. I’ll develop more willpower which I could use in every area of my life. My life will be better in all these areas, now. Over the next two, three, four, five years. By taking this action, I will live my dream.” Envision all the positive impacts both in the present and in the long term.