Are you motivated by Pain or motivated by Gain?

pablo-28

Pain or Gain?

There are two fundamental drives to human action:

  1. Avoidance of Pain
  2. Seeking of Gain.

This is how we work.

There are no other external causes of action.

We take action when we truly believe:

  1. It will avoid a Pain, or
  2. We truly believe it will deliver a Gain.

If I am not taking action, it is often because I do not truly believe that the action will achieve the end goal of pain avoidance, or deliver the gain.

The Pain Avoidance Driven Life

There are a set of things we do because we “have” to.  These tend to be actions driven by pain avoidance.

  • It is not hard to get a sick person to take painkillers.  They directly remove a current, real pain.
  • It is not hard to get a hungry person to eat.  The food directly removes a current, real pain.
  • It is not hard to get a scuba diver to come to the surface when they run out of air.
  • It is not hard to get myself to sleep when I am tired.
  • It is not hard to get myself to go to the toilet when I need to pee.

I don’t need any boss or discipline to do these tasks because the environment will just ramp up the pain steadily until I have no choice but to take action.

An entirely pain-avoidance driven life will inevitably leave a growing feeling of overwhelm.

The Gain Driven Life

“The things that will bring you the greatest results in your life don’t have a deadline.” Steve McClatchy

Perhaps the greatest positive of gain driven action is that it is entirely discretionary.  It is driven by choice.  It is the tool by which I change my fate.  It is the set of actions that define what type of human being I have chosen to be.

There is no need to take these actions.

In many cases, I live an internal fantasy life based on “I could do this, I could do that” that allows me to feel like I am the type of person I intend to be…  but only in my own inner life.  Not to the world.  Not in any meaningful way.

Anybody could write a blog post.

Anybody could go for a walk.

Anybody could eat 10% less calories for lunch today.

…and the fact that I know that I could is often my own barrier to actually doing.  I can maintain my inner image of myself as the highest potential version of me…  without seeing that my daily actions are not reaching this potential.

 

Resources

Two Forms of Human Motivation: Gain And Prevent Pain

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