There are 2 motivating factors that control every aspect of our lives. They determine every action we take. They rule our very success and happiness.
They affect our business success, our job fulfilment, our health, our relationships, our wealth and our satisfaction with our lives. Understanding these factors, and controlling them, is the difference between settling for what life gives you, or less, and having a life that you live on your terms.
What are these factors? They are your need to avoid pain and your desire to gain pleasure.
These 2 considerations are at the root of every decision we make and every action we take, or don’t. The unfortunate issue here is that most, if not almost all, of us are totally unaware of this decision-making process, let alone of a mindset to control it. The average person lacks sufficient self-awareness to realize when they are moving in the direction of avoiding pain or what pleasures are sufficient to move them in that direction. Without that awareness, we are all essentially controlled by fear, more than 90% of the time according to most studies. So, it becomes that need to avoid pain that dictates most of our decisions, and as a result, we settle for what life gives us instead of what we think we want.
I have much to say on this subject. On the surface it’s simple but overcoming the effect is not
necessarily easy. Over several blogs I’ll expand on numerous aspects of the pain vs. pleasure dynamic but for today I just want to open your mind to how you can begin to take control.
Lao Tzu’s famous quote, “He who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened,” is a good place to start. Most of us do not know ourselves. We don’t understand HOW we do things or what that behavior represents let alone the intrinsic motivators, or attitudes, that propel each of us, in our own way, to behave the way we do. Without that fundamental understanding, it is difficult to guide our actions in the direction of gaining pleasure and that is where fear gains it control.
I challenge you to start developing this self-awareness now. Start evaluating your behavior. Start asking yourself what actions you need to take to move in the direction of the life you want and challenge yourself to identify the pain you are associating with not following through.
The first step is to take control of the thought process, to become aware of when you are reacting vs. when you are deciding. This awareness, most importantly, the awareness of when you are avoiding pain instead of moving towards pleasure, is essential.
From dietary selections to relationship choices to career actions, almost every element of your life has a pain/pleasure threshold that dictates your decision. Once you make that a conscious decision instead of surrendering to an involuntary reaction, you’re on your way to taking control of your life. We’ll talk more about that later.
For now, just keep asking yourself, “What am I afraid of?”