Updated: Apr 18, 2018
Waking up to the day, dry eyes, foggy. I didn't sleep enough. Coffee. I never seem to sleep enough. My brain's not focusing. Facebook. Why does it feel so hard to motivate myself.
The kids, grey skies. Snacks. Cooking lunch. Post, Like, Comment. Let me just check this message. Cut one piece, and a taste for me. Instagram. Building a train track. Likes, More Coffee, Reply. Park.
Time for bed guys. I'll read the story tonight. Love you. Chips, Pot, Phone, Likes, Comments, Internet, Cookies, Netflix, Wine.
Seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, conserving energy - The Motivational Triad. But these days, quick pleasure is always within arm's reach. From stimulants and energy drinks, to pleasurable food filled with sugar, fat and salt, to 'likes' and 'stars' and dopamine rushes from phone chimes. Ahh, the pleasure. The release from pain. The quick answer. So how does it feel?
Without quick fixes, pain and discomfort hold valuable messages. They signal to us that we're on the wrong path, that something needs adjustment. Internal cues from low moods, uncomfortable emotions, pain, stress and fatigue are the systems of communication we depend on to know when to alter our direction. More sleep. Go for a walk. Build community. Stop eating. Reach out. Commune with nature. Create. Rest. Be still.
But now there's no need. If you're sad, eat sweets. If you're unhappy, watch more Netflix. If you're bored, check your phone, post, reply, like. If you're tired, have more coffee. However, the brain doesn't know the difference between short-cut pleasures of the modern world, and hard earned pleasures which bring fulfillment and pride. It seems we've hacked our motivational triad.
When we interrupt the natural signals of discomfort with a quick fix, we sell ourselves short. True pleasure is not found at the end of our finger tips. It's hard won, it's work and it's ultimately rewarding and fulfilling. Waking up rested and ready, working hard on a project until completion, coming back again and again to learn and tweak and have curiosity over our challenges and then succeeding. That's pleasure.
But yet again the phone chimes, the coffee is on, and another episode of your show is auto-playing. The act of resisting these pleasures in itself creates discomfort and pain. The readily available pleasures create an environment where long term goals now go hand in hand with 'self-inflicted' pain. It's not easy to close the computer or say no to the bag of chips or get off the couch or stay with a challenging emotion or unease. It causes discomfort.
But the true secret to creating a fulfilling life is to get comfortable with discomfort. It's about being willing to face it- feeling the pain or discomfort of the moment in exchange for longer term pleasure.
So here's what you need to know:
> you'll always want the immediate pleasure- it's in our makeup, it's the goal of our motivational triad, it's what led us to survival as a species, until now it has always served us.
> short term pleasure doesn't satisfy your true needs- when you take the coffee over the nap, you're not answering your true desires for rest. When you overeat instead of satisfying your need for connection, you'll remain isolated and lonely.
> in order to seek long-term fulfilling pleasure, you have to be willing to experience discomfort, not escape it- experiencing discomfort means welcoming it, being curious about how it feels in your body, befriending it, committing to it, and finding the sustainable actions that will relieve it.
> creating ultimate pleasure takes time and practice - true results, success, and pleasure don't come as fast as the immediate pleasure that surrounds us in our day. True pleasure requires effort, and is nowhere near as easy to get as chocolate and peanut butter is.
> fulfillment in the form of answering your higher desires and intentions is the ultimate sense of pleasure - knowing you're on the right track, doing the hard work to accomplish goals, participating in life beyond immediate desires, and holding yourself to a higher standard- that's pleasure, pride, joy, and fulfillment.
If you need support navigating your own path to long term pleasure, reach out here and send me an email. I'm ready to chat.