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One of the biggest factors standing in our way of achieving a goal is our perception of pleasure and pain. Typically, if we are trying to stop a bad habit, we associate that with feelings of pain. For example, say you want to stop smoking – our brains likely jump to the withdrawals, the cravings, and the overall difficulty we will have in doing so.
These thoughts overwhelmingly highlight the negative. Sometimes so much so, that we feel like it’s easier to just keep smoking.
This is an important crossroads where future self can help.
Instead of accentuating the pitfalls, we need to think about the long-term pleasure versus pain.
Let’s go with 10 years from now…
- I enjoy smoking
- It calms me down
- I feel more in control
- I need the nicotine
- I don’t feel as hungry when I smoke
- I am hurting my body
- I have a hard time breathing
- Exercise is difficult
- I may not be able to keep up with my peers
- I may alienate or disturb my family
- I am spending a lot of money to keep up my habit
- My doctor wants to put me on other medications
- I am getting screened for emphysema/COPD/cancer regularly
Creating a list like this should hopefully put the real-life consequences into perspective. And more importantly, persuade you to realize that long-term, there will be more pain than pleasure.
Pain has been proven as a greater motivator than pleasure. We seek to avoid pain at all costs. Perceived pleasure over a long period of time also tends to decrease. Therefore, it is a win-win situation in the example of smoking cessation.
Persuade yourself to progress.
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