We can be motivated to escape pain or to achieve more pleasure. In general, the self development and positive thinking teachings focus on getting more pleasure. They talk about how we will achieve that which we focus upon. So if we focus on achieving pleasure we will receive more pleasure. How about if we focus on escaping pain? Does it mean we will achieve more escape from pain or will we just get more pain?
I propose that pain is the most powerful motivator in the world. Think about it. How quickly do you respond to the pain of your hand being place on a hot stove versus the pleasure of petting your favorite animal? I suspect most of us respond with great urgency to pain, and the more painful, the more rapidly we respond.
How do we solve this paradox? Pain is a powerful motivator, though if we mostly focus on pain than we may mostly achieve pain. As with many things we should strive to achieve a balance between these two motivators. To ignore pain as a motivator is to throw away the most powerful motivator in our toolbox.
I was thinking about the saying "No pain, no gain" and now when I think about it, I interpret it more as, if we want to experience pleasure, we will have to endure some pain as opposed to trying to escape pain in order to achieve pleasure. It is more that pain usually stands in the way of the pleasure we want. So, in this context, pain isn't a motivator, pleasure is the motivator and pain is just another obstacle.
I'm still trying to figure out how utilize both pain and pleasure as motivational tools. I'll try it by adding one question to my regular goals review session. I'll ask myself, "What am I most afraid of?" I'll let you know how it goes.
What do you think? Is it worthwhile to think about our pain points and use them to motivate us, or is it sufficient to think about what pleasure we want to achieve? If it is useful to use pain? If so, how can we do it? Do we reinforce every day our deepest pain/fear and use that to drive us to action?