Pain or Gain?
There are two fundamental drives to human action:
- Avoidance of Pain
- Seeking of Gain.
This is how we work.
There are no other external causes of action.
We take action when we truly believe:
- It will avoid a Pain, or
- 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.