Pain or Pleasure?

There are two prime movers in life that provide motivation to change where we are, and improve our position towards avoiding one, and moving towards the other; enter pain and pleasure. But, which is the more powerful motivating force in our lives?

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

– Tony Robbins

Ultimately, it comes down to these two things, and these two things alone. What are the sources of pain in our lives? These are the things we are motivated to move away from. Anything that causes us pain, will be a motivator for some sort of change in our lives as the only way to move away from a present source of pain is for it to be not so present anymore. If we change who are, who we associate with and how we behave then are able to facilitate changes in ourselves, and thus our lives, which reduces the amount of pain we feel.

Equally as important and motivating (especially for the male species it seems) is the desire to move towards experiences and behaviours that give us pleasure. Any experience that increases happiness, fulfilment or love in life is going to act as a powerful force pulling us towards more of the same. Who doesn’t want more pleasure in their lives, right?

But here’s the thing; are the two really equal in their power over us? Surprisingly, no.

“People will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure”

– Tony Robbins

It seems pain is a much more powerful agent for change than gaining pleasure – something Tony has noticed after working with millions of people over the course of his career in coaching people to ultimate personal success. Increase someone’s level of pain they feel around something they’re not happy with in their life and they’re considerably more likely to make the changes necessary, and more importantly to embed those changes as a new way of live, than they are if they were to attempt to motivate themselves with the promise of pleasure as a reward for changing.

There are a few reasons for this, and it makes sense when you think about it. Firstly, if you’re in a position where you are feeling deep pain it’s like being in an oven turned up to maximum heat. You will do anything to stop the pain because it’s very real in the here and now. The alternative you’re trying to move towards might not even be pleasure, but just a more benign state that is more bearable than the searing heat of your current situation. In a state of pain, the here and now is far from comfortable, and this is a huge motivating factor.

Conversely, if the level of pain is more bearable, and you are attempting to motivate change by focusing on the pleasure of achievement, of reaching your goals, then your here and now is a lot more comfortable. Sure, it would be great to lose that weight, or to get a better job that you enjoy more, but that seems like a lot of work compared with the relative comfort of your present position. When the current level of pain is tepid, the motivation to get off your arse and do what needs to be done can wane quickly, like water through a sieve. Comfort is a dangerous animal, and we should all take great care to not spend too much time there – when we’re comfortable, we aren’t capable of achieving our greatest potential for personal and professional growth.

“In this World you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow”

– Lou Holtz

In the words of T. Harv Eker; you have to grow you comfort zone to grow your money zone. This is true in all walks of life; you don’t grow a muscle without first stressing it through exercise, and pushing it to the limits of it’s capability. You don’t improve your VO2 Max or marathon time without stressing your cardiovascular system and pushing it to it’s limits on a regular basis. Stress is the prime mover for growth, whether it’s physical stress to strengthen the body, or psychological stress to strengthen the fortitude of the mind. Just take a look around you, look deeply at the World and you will see this law of nature all around you as you start to notice the mechanics of life.

This is why so many people talk about wanting to change – and they really do want to change – but never actually do. It’s because they’re too comfortable where they are, and although they aren’t happy with their situation, they aren’t in enough pain to get the motivation required to take action and make the changes they need in their lives. A typical example is someone who complains constantly about their work life; they hate their job, their boss is an arsehole and the office politics are unbearable. Yet, those same people are still in the same situation after years of suffering because they are too comfortable. They might hate their jobs, but they make excuses like; I have a family to feed, I have a mortgage, I have obligations and commitments, and that’s why I am stuck where I am.

Bullshit. You’re stuck where you are because ever day you wake up and make a conscious choice to stay in a life you despise. Take some responsibility, own your life and your decisions, because no one is holding a gun to your head. You and you alone are the sole person who has made all the choices in your life, and if you haven’t then you have let others make your choices for you – which is still you making a choice to abdicate from making your own choices.

I’ve been that person, so I speak from first hand experience.

So, if you are not happy with some aspect of your life you need to make the experience more painful. Take that pain dial and turn it up to 11! Trying to coax yourself to change by dangling the carrot of pleasure is unlikely to have the motivational power required to make the significant changes in life that can really move the needle in your level of happiness and fulfilment. Instead, step into the pain of where you are and amplify it. A great exercise you can practice to do this is to meditate on the things that you’re not happy with in your life, and imagine traveling through time into your future – 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years…. and see yourself and your life as it will be if you don’t make the changes you need to make in your life. What have you lost? What opportunities did you miss? What does it feel like to deal with that level of pain and despondency for all those years? How bitter have you become as a result of your resentment and low self-esteem? As you move years into your hypothetical future amplifying those feels and seeing all the negative effects not changing has had on you, your loved ones and your life as a whole, a determination builds up in you like no other. When the pain is so great from being fully aware and present in how your lack of action will manifest in your life years from now, you will also find an overwhelming motivation to get in motion and start doing things differently. From that state, go back to the present and commit fully to making the changes you need to make in your life – the pain from your current path now being so great that staying there is unbearable, and moving away from it is a must. See how those changes play out in your life, and feel all the rewards, happiness and fulfilment they will bring you over the coming weeks, months and years. The more present you can be throughout this exercise, the more potent the experience will be.

This is such a powerful method for combining the power of both pain and pleasure as agents for change. It’s an experience I have personally been through, and I can tell you it was a like a roundhouse kick to the face in waking me up and getting me making the changes I needed to make in my life.

Amazing things happen when you stand up and take ownership of your choices in life – doors open that you never knew existed and everything starts to come together. Is it easy? Fuck no. Remember what this blog is about? You NEED discomfort to grow! You need pain because it is a powerful prime mover. We are all going to feel both pleasure and pain in our lives no matter what decisions we make, because we can’t get it right all the time. That being the case, we need to learn how to make the pain and pleasure we experience work to serve us and build our character.

Pain and pleasure are both wonderful teachers, and they each teach very different subjects. The lessons taught by painful experiences cannot be taught by pleasurable experiences, and vice versa. We need both to grow, and to live in harmony and balance. That can be a hard thing to accept, especially with some of the decadence and brutality we see in the World, but in accepting this we allow ourselves to take back control of our lives and our destiny.

Life doesn’t happen to you, life happens for you.

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It’s MY Life

This blog is for all my fellow MMI graduates, and anyone interested in what the Millionaire Mind Intensive is all about – it was an amazing event, and if you haven’t been, you should!

 

On Sunday afternoon we were re-introduced to this song by Bon Jovi in a way I’ll never forget, and this song now holds so much potency for me that it will serve as a powerful reminder of the lessons we learned that day for the rest of my life.

 

I’ve always liked this song, however following the amazing weekend we had in London this song has become a powerful and emotive anchor for me – I will remember that Sunday afternoon vividly to the day I die; it will be my source of strength, and a potent voice reminding me that I CREATE MY LIFE. Here’s why…

 

After two and a half long days of unlearning the bullshit conditioning that prevailed in one form or another for most of the people at the event, and subsequently re-learning and re-conditioning my mind and body at a cellular level with an approach of congruent empowerment and spiritual enlightenment (yes, that’s right – money, wealth and spirituality go hand in hand), what we experienced that Sunday afternoon changed the way I view myself and my world forever.

 

That afternoon, as Marcus stood on stage and began explaining what we were about to do, my emotions (and, I imagine, those of everyone in the room) were running high. The energy was immense, but even that was about to be blown through the roof.

 

As the disclaimer forms were handed out for us all to sign, Marcus explained that we were all about to be provided with the ultimate opportunity to break through our bullshit limiting beliefs… we were to break a hunting arrow, with the point resting on the soft parts of our necks just above the sternum and the opposite end firmly supported against a partners hand. That’s right, we were to snap an arrow with our necks. The game was on.

 

As we patiently listened to his explanation of what was to follow I could feel the tension in the room rising. Were we really about to do this? What if it didn’t work? What if it pierced our necks, impaling ourselves on our arrows – a tool used to realise the state of death as it’s primary intended purpose? I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure my fellow graduates will agree, the mind chatter was almost intolerable. Fear was taking hold and ripping us away from ourselves, toying with us, doing everything is could – saying everything imaginable – to scare us into submission and to keep us firmly stuck where we were; knee deep in our own shit.

 

How you anything is how you do everything.

 

This was the ultimate test – and I thought walking on a bed of hot coals at UPW at the end of April was going to be a challenge!

 

So, the room of over 1000 people signed the forms and split into groups of 10, and each designated a leader for the group – I was the leader of mine. I gathered the forms to hand back to the trainers, and as I handed over our forms, I was handed back 10 arrows, a heavy duty safety glove and protective glasses for each member of my group. Shit was getting real.

 

Were we really going to do this?

 

As I handed out the arrows to each member of my group, none of us could resist the temptation of testing the point to try and get a feel for what we were about to do. Now, the point wasn’t to a fine to point, but even slightly rounded it felt very uncomfortable even testing it on the area of my neck which was to be the primary pressure point for the break. Again, the volume of the mind chatter was rising – what the fuck am I doing? What if..? What if? What if? A lot of what if’s were going through my mind – my conscious self was trying to take me out of the game, and it was a constant battle between the fear in my mind, and the courage in my heart. I knew I needed to do this, but even then I had no idea how powerful the experience was going to be.

 

You see, the minds primary role is for protection against change, derived from millennia of evolution to that end. It’s always done a fairly good job of stopping us from being eaten by large wild predators, however these days that same mechanism is mostly responsible for our ability to create our own limiting beliefs which take us out of the game of life as we squash any opportunity that comes our way which puts us outside our nice little comfort zone. The problem is, you can only grow so much in that comfortable little zone, and the people in life who achieve great things – whether that be great wealth, great feats of nature and great success – make it their life’s mission to put themselves outside their comfort zone at every opportunity.

 

As we learned over the course of the weekend, as you grow your comfort zone, you grow your money/income zone.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch 
I have found this to be true in other aspects of my life over recent years, particularly in regards to my Tae Kwon Do career, but what we were about to experience was about to calcify the truth in this statement in a way that left a lasting impression on all of us.

 

In that moment, as we stood there in our groups with our arrows and equipment, we had to make a choice – were we prepared to break through out bullshit limiting beliefs once and for all? Were we prepared to do whatever it takes? For me, the answer was a nervous, yet resounding, YES!

 

Before we could commence the exercise we had one job left to do; pick our most potent limiting belief and write it on our arrows to symbolise breaking through those beliefs as we broke through our fears and through our arrows.

 

As the martial artist in the group, and being the leader, I put on the protective glove and sat into my stance to brace the arrows for my partners. One by one they conquered their fears, showed unwavering courage, and smashed through themselves. Each and every one of us stepped up the stage, placed the point of the arrow on our necks as we had been directed, and pushed ourselves into the point.

 

We all snapped our arrows; the resulting rush of emotions and biochemicals was exhilarating, liberating and empowering as they coursed through our minds and bodies.

 

We celebrated like crazy after each person snapped their arrows, with high fives all round in recognition of each persons fortitude towards breaking through their fears and limiting beliefs. After everyone was done, the music came on full volume and the room exploded! They played Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ and although I’ve heard that song a hundred times before, it played with so much more power and meaning that day and became a powerful anchor for the experience we had just shared together.

 

Let me tell you, being part of a group of a thousand people all operating at that level of empowerment and exhilaration was an amazing environment to be a part of, and a feeling I will never forget as long as I live.

 

What did it teach me? It taught me that fear kills dreams, and also that all we have to do to get where we want to be in life is to recognise that internal self-talk for what it is, say ‘thank you for sharing’ as we push it to one side, and move forward anyway. It taught me that dipping my toe in the waters on my dreams is painful, the same way pushing our necks against those arrows slowly and cautiously was so much more painful than pushing into it with force and congruent determination. If you’re going to do something in life, then fucking do it – don’t dip your toe in the waters of your dreams, jump the fuck in and go for a swim. Immerse yourself in your dreams, and immerse yourself in the attainment of them. Push straight into the arrows in your life – your dreams and goals – and do so with power, purpose and passion.

 

It reminded me that I can do whatever I decide I want to do, it reminded me that the only person responsible for creating my life is me. I make my own opportunities, I decide who I am going to be, and I decide what level I play at when working towards my dreams and goals. I am the sole person responsible where I am right now, and I am the only one who can change that – all it takes is making a choice to step outside that comfort zone, say thank you for sharing to my mind and its attempts to protect me from success by keeping me in my comfort zone, and to do the work that speaks to my heart by playing all out, full on, at 110%.

 

It was also a powerful reminder of how important it is to have a good team around you, whether in life or in business. Having my strong team around me providing their unwavering support and cheering me on only served to add to my resolve and helped to calcify my belief in my ability to succeed. The power of having a good team around you cannot be understated in anything you do, and this powerful lesson was a healthy reminder of that fact. We shared our apprehensions and fears, and we shared our success – supporting my fellow team mates as they broke their arrows, and celebrating with them was almost as powerful and rewarding as completing the exercise myself – another important lesson; the fruits of success aren’t just derived from our own achievements, but also from serving others and being a part of their success. After all, what’s the point of developing ourselves if we don’t then use our new found power, skills and abilities to help others do the same, to help others rise to their challenges, overcome them and win the day. Your own personal success is only part of the equation, the other part is the role we play in the success of others.

 

This experience changed my life; it taught me so much about who I am, and who I have the potential to be. It taught me that I am responsible, and I have the power to create whatever life I want – all I have to do is recognise, understand and push through my fears and limiting beliefs, to step outside of my familiar zone of comfort, and do whatever it takes, within moral and legal boundaries, to create the opportunities in my life that will deliver me to the success I dream of.

 

And do you know what’s particularly exciting about this? Everyone can do it, all it takes is a choice.

 

Check out the song below, and have an amazing day:

 

 

Edit: Here’s a photo of the remains of the arrow I talk about in this blog – I’ve stuck it atop my computer at work to serve as a perpetual reminder of the experience and what I learned. I said I would post a photo in the comments, but am not able to do so which is why I’m posting it here at the end of the article.

Jamie Keeling Little Grey JK Arrow Break

Remnants of my arrow from the arrow break exercise – MMI 31/03/17 to 02/04/17