Using Pain and Pleasure for Good (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 185)
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”
— Napoleon Hill
Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. It is impossible to have all of one without some of the other. Yet, we tend to avoid pain as much as possible while increasing our experiences of pleasure. However, rarely do we gain long-lasting pleasure without traveling through the route of pain.
Let’s say you want to lose weight but can’t seem to do it. Maybe you wish to stop drinking or smoking but always fall to these vices. Or it could be something relatively harmless such as eating too many sweets and you want to be more balanced. Perhaps you want to go back to college or start a new business but think you don’t have the time.
The latter part of these statements are nothing more than excuses. And naturally, we tend to make excuses to avoid pain or less than pleasant situations. Many times we quit or attempt to start something new and then after a few weeks or days, we return back to our old habits.
We don’t change because change is hard work. Hard work is painful. And most people don’t like to do hard things or experience pain in any form. We link pleasure with ease and ease is doing what we have been doing because it is familiar. To change everything around will require some level of pain.
Our bodies and minds are programmed to cultivate survival. The molecules in our bodies force us to do whatever we can do to avoid pain and obtain pleasure. Getting rid of destructive habits requires a good deal of work. It requires us to use both pain and pleasure to our advantage. If you attach pain to a certain behavior, you will avoid indulging in it. In the same vein, if you attach pleasure to a certain behavior, you will seek out ways to indulge in more of it.
Instead of letting the natural forces in your body and mind control you, you can control them by directing pain and pleasure into productive avenues. Instantly, you can change nearly everything in your life if you start to focus pain and pleasure in the direction of your goals and dreams.
Very few things — in fact, nothing at all — is obtainable by pleasure alone. Ask the most successful people how they got to where they are, and they will tell you that it did not come without some form of difficulty or obstacle. Before embarking on a goal, you have to make decisions about that goal.
Asking yourself questions such as: What should I do about this? What will the end result be? Will this lead to pain or pleasure? and so on are all a part of the pain-pleasure principle. The decision we make depends mostly upon how we interpret pain and pleasure in our lives. Pain is often the force that we need to accomplish our greatest goals and achieve our highest dreams.
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”
— Frederick Douglass