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pain and pleasure

Using pain and pleasure for motivation

All your decisions in life are influenced by Pain and Pleasure. Either you do something to avoid the pain or you do something to achieve the pleasure. In fact, pain is a great motivator and most people don't succeed in life till they have so much pain.

What makes you take action?

If you are a lady reading this, answer me : Do you have your makeup on? why do you apply make up each day? is it because you enjoy the processes of applying make up every morning? Not always, isn't it?

You probably will have to answers to this question:

1. Makes you feel more attractive - why are taking this action, to gain PLEASURE. Or you say "people think i am more attractive" again, to gain pleasure.

2. You hate it, but still do it because someone might say "what happen to your face" or "why do you look like a zombie" - you take this action, to avoid PAIN.

some might do it for a combination of both the reasons but the point is you do it either to gain pleasure or to avoid the pain.

Why do we procrastinate?

Our mind does all it can to avoid having the pain. If you associate something to pain, your mind will bring out all the ways to avoid that pain.

Let us say that you want to reduce weight:

If you feel that you cannot eat tasty foods, you cannot eat anytime you want, you cannot eat sweets.... what you are subconsciously doing is, associating these pains with the process of reducing weight.

As i said, our brain will do whatever it takes to avoid pain, so no matter how much efforts you put in, you cannot lose weight with the above mindset.

Rather what you should do is, associate the process of reducing weight to pleasure. Think of how good it will feel if you are looking slim, how good it will feel to have energy all the time, how good it will feel to eat healthy always.. without a doubt this approach will ease the process.

You might argue that being fat is painful, why doesn't the mind do something to avoid it. The answer is, while you eat chocolate or your favorite food, the please of eating it take precedence over the pain of being fat.

In short, we procrastinate because we associate things to pain.

How to use pain and pleasure the right way?

You have an important thing to do which will bring you pleasure in your life, but you still procrastinate (delay it for some other day), why? Why would someone do this. You do this to avoid the immediate pain involved in acting on your goals. You avoid the pain the of dedicating time to the task in hand. 

You will have to link pain and pleasure to get your tasks done. Link not taking action with more pain than procrastinating. Eg. think of not controlling your food habit as more painful because your action might lead to irreversible changes.

If you are doing an important task, think what will be the pain of not doing the task. control your focus.

A small task to you if you are really interested in changing your life:

List down 2 actions which you need to take to improve your life.

For each action, list at least 4 reason to each questions below:

  • What pain kept you away from doing this
  • What pleasure did you gain by not doing this
  • What will be the pain if you continue to not act on this
  • What will be the pleasure if you act on this


Action i need to take: Exercise to reduce weight

What pain kept you away from doing this : Can't eat tasty food, need to go gym, dedicate time for exercise, fear of failure.

What pleasure did you gain by not doing this : Able to eat tasty/junk foods, got more time to relax, loved being lazy, did not worry about schedule.

What will be the pain if you continue to not act on this : I might become overweight, look ugly, no energy to play with kids, feeling low always, scary old age.

What will be the pleasure if you act on this : Look slim and handsome, feel confident, eat healthy, feel energetic etc.

Now do this for every action you would like to take in the life. Associate pain and pleasure intelligently. Associate more pain to 'not doing a thing' than doing it.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section, i will be happy to help you!


  • You do a thing do gain pleasure or to avoid pain.
  • Your brain will do everything it can to avoid the pain.
  • We procrastinate because we associate things to pain
  • Associate more pain with not doing the action required.
  • List 2 actions and think of at least 4 answers for each of the 4 questions
  • Kit says:

    When the pain gets too big, it is easy for me to think more of doing something for pleasure. I guess that is normal. But sometimes I have to endure pain to find success. Quitting because it is painful can lead to many failures easily. I will become more lazy and never get things done.

  • Danny says:

    I liked the idea behind your article. I always listen to a guy named David Goggins who is a retired Navy SEAL and is now considered one of the best endurance runners in the world. He’s considered by many the toughest man on this planet. He always talks about callusing your mind, and that if it sucks and you hate doing it, then that’s exactly why you have to do it.

  • Lucas says:

    You provide an interesting view on things and I do agree. Personally, I procrastinate alot on stuff like assignments.

    Maybe i’m associating it with pain? Or am I just plan lazy haha.

    I guess I need to start finding the pleasure in my responsibilities so that they outweigh my pain, then I can get around to finishing them.

  • Lynne Huysamen says:

    Taking the time to delve into this topic will be beneficial to anyone. As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict I find this topic fascinating. The coping mechanisms of an addict are not what “normal people” experience. Even now that I am 10 years clean I find myself wanting to act in destructive ways and I need to keep an eye on my behavior at all times. 

    As an addict in active addiction almost every choice I made brought me more pain. Thankfully I am clean now, but it is still a constant work in progress. 

    • Ameen Munaf says:

      You are a brave soul. It is not easy to fight these thing. People can write about all sorts of things but having an approval from someone like you who has really done it, means alot. Thank you Lynne. and im sure you will fight it harder each time.

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