Free will doesn’t exist. People aren’t as smart as they think they are. Every decision one makes is the result of one thing. The Pain Vs Pleasure Principle.
I’m sure someone with a background in psychology could give a much more accurate description of the Pain vs Pleasure Principle’s history, but from my understanding it was a concept Sigmund Freud first developed in 1895, and one Tony Robbins later popularized over the last couple decades.
The main premise of the principle is that human beings are motivated by two things. The production of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain. Pain is a more powerful motivator as humans naturally fear loss more than gain, but both can be used to manifest massive amounts of motivation within yourself.
(Note from Cam: This week’s video is light years better than the ones from previous weeks so definitely give it a watch. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever liked one of my videos more than the corresponding blog post. Regardless, I hope you’re able to benefit from whatever you end up consuming.)
An Example Pain Vs Pleasure Principle Scenario
A man is at a party and sees the most attractive girl there feeling lonely and standing awkwardly looking for someone to dance with. He wants to go dance with her, but for some reason just can’t force himself to ask her to dance.
Later that night the girl is dancing in the midst of a huge group of her beautiful friends, and every guy at the party wants to dance with one of the girls. The girls are so attractive, however, that the men are all intimidated and stand nervously on the edge of the dance floor.
One man, however, charismatically struts to the middle of their circle, completely loses himself in the music, and dances his heart out. The girls all love him, and he happily ends up spending the rest of the night with the most beautiful girl.
What’s the difference between the first guy, and the second? Their pain vs pleasure responses are polar opposites. The first guy’s fear of rejection, and embarrassment outweighed his anticipation of the pleasure of dancing and spending time with a beautiful girl. Despite the fact he had better logistics, the first man’s brain literally prevented him from asking the girl to dance.
The second man had weaker logistics, but he likely focused on what he wanted rather than what he didn’t want, and as a result his pain vs pleasure response was tipped in a way that made it impossible for him not to go dance with the girls.
The secret to effortlessly manifesting motivation, and making taking action nearly automatic is to hack your pain vs pleasure response in a way that makes stagnation more painful than taking action. There’s several ways you can do this.
Look At The Big Picture
For one, you can change where you direct your focus. As I’m writing this blog post I’m experiencing a moderate amount of resistance towards the writing process. I haven’t written a post in nearly a week so I know it’s in my best interest to complete this post, but there’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to quit right now.
A part of me is constantly tempting me to get up from this chair, and stop writing, but I literally can’t. Not because I’m particularly enjoying writing today, but because I see the big picture.
One less blog post over the course of a year, or even a month is pretty much insignificant. Theoretically it makes very little difference whether or not I complete this post. I could stop writing now, never publish this, and nobody would ever think anything less of me. Except for me.
I know that self-esteem is the direct result of being able to keep promises you make to yourself. If I don’t finish this post, I’ll lose a little bit of the trust I have in myself. More than that, however, I’ll set a precedent.
If I don’t finish today’s post what’s going to stop me from quitting on next week’s? If I skip today’s workout what’s going to prevent me from skipping the next one? It becomes very difficult to stray from your morals when you understand cheating once gives you permission to cheat again.
Life isn’t stagnant. Each day you’re either getting a little bit better, or a little bit worse. Life consists mainly of upward and downward spirals, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes to ensure you stay in the upward ones. Few people that get caught in downward spirals ever bounce back.
Focus On The Journey Rather Than The Destination
If you think this directly contradicts the previous point well, you’re right. Like most complicated things motivation isn’t clear cut. There’s lots of paradoxes and gray areas.
Learning from your mistakes, and looking at the big picture are important, but I think the majority of your time should be spent in the present moment.
When I’m writing I spend very little time actually thinking. I think most writers will tell you that writing is a flow-state activity, and the majority of the process is spent just being. When you’re writing you may need to occasionally think about how you’re going to articulate something, but far and away the best results come when you simply surrender yourself to the process.
For the first several hundred words of this post, I experienced heavy resistance, and wanted to quit. Now though spending over an hour writing I’ve become a part of the process and the words just flow. Energy is surely being expended, but it’s also refreshing, and feels essentially effortless.
You’ll notice the same thing in social situations. It can be good to plan what social skills you want to work on before you get to the social event, and to have a general idea of what the plan for the night is, but once you get there it’s time to stop micromanaging, let go, and just be.
Being grounded in the present moment is wonderful for taking massive action, because it helps reduce your low level cortisol responses, and allows you to perform to the best of your ability.
Being present is also highly motivating because it’s addictive. When you first start meditating, writing, or doing almost any flow-state activity you’re likely going to experience a lot of resistance. This is typically the result of being addicted to stimulus.
After a while, however, you’ll become grounded in the present moment, and being in this state is tremendously addictive because it allows you to rid yourself of all the excess stress you’ve accumulated and experience a peaceful bliss.
Once you’ve experienced this state you’ll find yourself wanting to experience more of it, and you’ll naturally gravitate to things that allow you to reach this state of mind rather than low level things like television that produce only a duuhhhrr state.
The two previous points can certainly be useful in the manifestation of motivation within yourself, but ultimately the biggest thing you can do to tip the pain vs pleasure response into your favor is to buy in to whatever you’re doing.
Do you honestly think I’d still be here writing if I didn’t think it was going to pay off? Hell, I’d have quit blogging in my first week if I thought my time was being wasted.
Remember when we were talking about the difference between the man who couldn’t talk to the girl, and the man who got her? What was the difference? The second man bought in, and believed he could get her.
Think about the losers who sit in their parents’ basements and troll on Youtube and Reddit. It’s easy to talk about how pathetic they are. We can ask them why they troll, but the real question should be why wouldn’t they troll?
Like drug addicts, the reality of their lives is that they don’t see themselves having a future. If you were stuck in an inescapable cloud of misery why wouldn’t you be a lazy bitch?
Buying in to yourself is so damn important because if you don’t expect your efforts to pay out your pain vs pleasure response is fucked, and as a result you’ll end up just like the Reddit trolls, never amounting to anything more than a slave to instant gratification.
Fortunately, you can proactively take action to ensure you buy in to yourself. By tackling small tasks such as doing a workout in the gym, or rewarding yourself for writing a blog post, you can teach your brain that if it takes an action it’ll produce a result.
After your brain makes the association between small tasks and small rewards you can eventually train it to be able to buy in for much bigger projects, and that’s when you begin to accomplish really great things.
Once you buy into yourself, and fully believe the actions you take are going to produce results; you’ll start producing the results you’ve always wanted.
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