Pain and pleasure are the basic principles we use when ‘conditioning’ the behavior of animals, as well as children and adults. This is explained by the Pavlov effect. Which is named after Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936); the Noble prize winning Russian physiologist who discovered it during his studies on Behaviorism. In line with this concept, in my last post how pain and pleasure affect every decision in your life I explained to you how rewards (pleasure) and punishments (pain) can be used effectively to rid yourself, once and for all, of any unwanted behavior.
But it is important to note, that if you make any change in your life and you want these changes to be long term, then willpower alone may not be enough. A further understanding of the pain and pleasure principles, however, will help you to achieve all your goals.
For example, if you are overweight and you want to lose the excess fat then you will also need to condition your decision making processes. You see, in life, 80% of any achievement is always down to the mindset, and only 20% is the mechanics. So if you want to lose weight, 80% of achieving that goal depends on you having the right mindset, and only 20% is the part where you eat healthier and exercise more regularly.
So in this example, there will be a lot of negative emotions which you have connected to the feeling of being overweight. But, on the other hand, there will also be a number of positive emotions which you can connect to the feeling of being thinner. That feeling of losing the extra weight. In your mind you need to magnify both of these feelings. And you need to experience them both at such an intensity that the pain will be too much for you to bear. Until you reach that point where you must change and you’re compelled to change. Only when you reach that point can you can use the power of your pain to drive you toward your pleasure.
7 Steps to Lose Weight Using the Pain & Pleasure Principle
To reach your goal you need to make all your decisions based solely on the power and intensity of your emotions. And the pain that your negative emotions are currently causing you needs always to be directed toward maximizing the pleasure that you strive for. But how? Here are a few basic steps, follow them, learn how to use your pain, and achieve your goals in the easiest and fastest way possible:
Step 1: You Need to Link the Pain to the Habit You Want to Overcome. For the weight loss example, you need to associate all the negative emotions with being overweight. Use statistics. Read about the long and short term effects. But not just the health effects. Read also about the effects on your social life, and your relationships. Allow yourself to wallow in the negativity. Watch movies and documentaries about being overweight. Watch movies and documentaries that will shock you. Shock yourself into taking action.
Step 2: Associate Enough Fun and Pleasure with a Healthier Lifestyle. Visualize. Imagine how it would feel to be fitter and healthier than you are now. Let your mind take you to a place that is far removed from the pain and suffering you found in step 1. This will act as your motivation. Now you need something more solid to aim for. So put posters, books, magazines, and signs around your house which promote that healthy lifestyle. Remind yourself of that body you want to have, the energy you want to burn, that healthy yet equally delicious food you want to eat.
Step 3: Look for Alternative Options. There are always benefits which you associate with your current behavior. In the case of our example you could feel that eating is a social form of relaxation. What you need to do here then, is to look for alternative options. I know a lot of people who love to go swimming with their friends; it’s the best exercise you can give to your entire body. And yet when they’re swimming up and down the pool and just keeping a constant pace with each other and talking, they feel relaxed and social all at the same time.
Step 4: The One Month Challenge. You need to motivate yourself constantly. You can start by telling yourself you’ll improve your diet, but for just the one month. Nothing more. Before you start you can tell yourself that after the month is over you will go straight back to your old behavior. You can convince yourself that a single solitary month is nothing compared to a lifetime and that it will be a breeze. But the thing is, everything you do consistently for 30 days can easily become a habit. Therefore, this step, this little trick, when coupled with the other steps will have you well on your way to changing those old behaviors.
Step 5: Celebrate Every Victory. Use the ‘pleasure’ part of the pain and pleasure theory, and use it often. In other words celebrate EVERY victory, even if you think it’s just a small one. Even if, at the start, you ate 3 cookies where normally you would eat 4. This consistent ‘bite-size rewarding’ will build momentum and give you small and continuous glimpses into what it will feel like in the end. Celebrate them with somebody too. A problem shared may well be a problem halved, but a celebration shared is a party doubled.
Step 6: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. You should take small and steady baby steps toward changing your behavior. After all, even a baby step is a step in the right direction. You need to remind yourself that achieving pleasure is not so difficult. You just need to be consistent and focused. Focused on it, and consistently moving toward it.
Step 7: Do Not Reinvent the Wheel. Instead you can identify role models for yourself. People who have already been there, done it, bought the smaller size t-shirt. Finding the right environment and the right role models will be a vital factor in motivating you to complete the challenge. Find out what they eat, how they think, and what their beliefs are and you too can produce the same results. Copy & Paste. Behavioral modeling is the clearest pathway to excellence in any thing that you do.
So now it’s your turn.
What particular actions need to be on this list? What movie, book, person, emotion, or memory has motivated you? What motivational technique do you recommend to your friends?