I’ve written before that the key to reaching your goals is being conscious of the Pain Vs Pleasure decisions in our life.
I truly believe that this is the one way you can really change your life. I’m a firm believer that in general, we know what are the right choices and what are the wrong choices when it comes to health, work, business, pleasure and everything else in life.
Ok, so it might take a nutritionist to know which has more vitamin B6 – a beetroot or a tomato, but we all know that when you are looking for a snack, an apple is a healthier choice than a chocolate bar. When you have a spare 20-minutes, going for a run is a better than decision than catching up on Eastenders on the sofa with a hob-nob so why do we so often make the wrong choices when we KNOW what the right choice is?
Well it all comes down to Pain vs Pleasure. We all make the majority of our decisions on these two emotions.
The Avoidance of Pain
We have all experienced pain in some form, sometimes it is physical, sometimes it is emotional but nonetheless, we know what pain feels like – and it might not surprise you to hear that we make our choices to avoid feeling this.
The Pursuit of Pleasure
Hopefully, we all know this one too. We all get pleasure from different things, but again it can be physical or emotional, and again, we make decisions based on what will give us pleasure.
Now I know what you are all thinking, that sounds way too simplistic. Well let’s go back to our Apple vs chocolate bar scenario. Let’s say you are hungry so you decide to find a snack in your kitchen and you are faced with these two options – which one do you go for? Well the hunger you are feeling, that is the pain we are trying to avoid, which one of these two options will avoid that pain? The honest answer is that both of them will! So why do we so often go for the chocolate – because that is the one that gives us most pleasure!
So how does conscious decision making change this?
Our impulse is to obviously choose the chocolate bar, because in that moment, that is the choice which avoids the pain and give us most pleasure. But if you are to really think about this situation does it really? We all know that long term, that chocolate, if it is not used by your body will become excess body-fat, and this might be an area that you are trying to work on – maybe you have a dress that you used to wear but it no longer fits? Maybe when you look in the mirror you can see bits on yourself that you are not happy with?
Well believe it or not THAT is pain as well! But the problem is that in that moment of reaching for a snack, you aren’t thinking about these things. So the key is making a conscious decision about ultimately which decision avoids the most pain.
Let’s now look at our other situation.
Going for a run vs watching Eastenders – again, we all know the better option here – we all know the benefits of regular exercise, and whilst Eastenders might broaden our cultural knowledge of East London, it is probably something we can afford to miss out on. But which one do we go for? Again, the answer is in the conscious decision making. A nice sit down on the sofa will give us a big dose of immediate pleasure whereas, going for a run – I can feel the pain you are all thinking about already!
But again if you switch your thinking to look at the big picture, that is where you can make the right choice. By concentrating on the pain you will get from the lack of exercise and the pleasure we will get from being fitter, healthier and happier after that run, that is where the real magic happens!
So this month, I want you to all make a concerted effort to really think about making conscious decisions, don’t get swept along with impulse.