Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.
Celebrating 25 years in business! CPD Member - The CPD Certification Service ilm Recognised Provider

How to Use the Pleasure/Pain Principle

How to Use the Pleasure/Pain Principle

How to Use the Pleasure/Pain Principle

This grid holds the secret to understanding why people do strange things:

Personal Effectiveness : How to Use the Pleasure/Pain Principle

Many people eat too much, drink too much, take drugs that they know will destroy them, drive motorbikes at 100mph on crowded motorways, and generally act in a manner likely to take them to an early grave.

The big question is; WHY?

Because its pleasurable!

The human brain is programmed by two factors: pleasure and pain.

The human brain is a pleasure-seeking organ, it is always looking for things that it thinks will bring it pleasure.

It is also a pain avoiding mechanism. It wants to avoid things it finds painful. Therefore:

  • We eat cream cakes rather than fish, because cream cakes are more pleasurable.
  • We drink wine rather than water, because wine is more pleasurable.
  • We lie in bed too long and don't run around the block, because lying in bed is more pleasurable.

Annoyingly, bad habits tend to be more pleasurable than good habits. But only if you assume a short-term perspective.

If you look at the long-term consequences of a particular habit, then the pleasure pain consequences often switch places!

  • What was pleasurable becomes painful.
  • What was painful becomes pleasurable.

For instance:

  1. Cream cakes are pleasurable in the short term, when you eat them. But what are the painful long-term consequences you will suffer if you overeat on cream cakes? Fish is not as pleasurable as cream cakes, but what are the pleasurable long-term consequences you will enjoy if you eat a fish-based diet?
  2. Lying in bed for too long is pleasurable short term, but what are the painful long-term consequences you will suffer if you lie around and never exercise? Hard Running is not pleasurable, but what are the pleasurable long-term consequences you will enjoy if you train hard three times per week for three months?

Wisdom is the art of thinking long range.

Judging actions by considering the short-term consequences, tends to produce bad decisions.

Judging actions by considering the long-term consequences, tends to produce wise decisions.

When you are trying to change a behaviour, or a bad habit, keep asking the following two long-term consequence questions and try to get as many answers as you can.

  1. What is the long-term painful consequences you will suffer if you keep doing what you are doing?
  2. What is the long-term pleasurable benefits you will enjoy, if you do make a change?

Memorise these two questions and use them on yourself and other people, in order to make them re-evaluate their current behaviour and induce them to consider making a change.

For example: What are the long-term painful consequences you will suffer if you keep procrastinating on that job you don't want to do? And what are the long-term pleasurable benefits you will enjoy, if you just bite the bullet and get the job done?

"The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain." Aristotle

About the Author: Chris Farmer

Chris

Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Personal Effectiveness

  • Why Self-Discipline Matters for Success
    Self-discipline is vital for success: Achieve goals, manage time, beat procrastination, stay strong, build good habits, grow, and control emotions. Start building it now!
    Read Article >
  • How can I improve my performance?
    How can you improve your performance? Question: Do you think that you have reached the peak of your possible potential? Or rather would you like to think that you have yet to discover and actualise the true extent of your powers? Are you as good as you can get, or have...
    Read Article >
  • How to be More Efficient
    If it feels like you haven't got enough hours in the day, take a look at these tips in order to make your life easier by becoming more efficient.
    Read Article >
  • Self-Discipline: Mind Over Mood
    Self discipline makes a big difference to your success. Self discipline is the act of placing the power of your mind OVER your mood.
    Read Article >
  • The Essential Economic Principle to Financial Success
    To succeed as business owners and managers, grasping economic fundamentals is vital. Key principle: "Spend less than you earn and invest the surplus in value-generating assets."
    Read Article >

Looking for Personal Development Training?

If you're looking to develop your Personal Effectiveness Skills, you may find this Personal Development Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

29 - 30 April
London - Central
£900 +VAT
8 - 9 May
Southampton
£900 +VAT
Course Full
8 - 9 May
Exeter
£900 +VAT
14 - 15 May
Birmingham
£900 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £100 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 5 days, London - Central, places available Book Now >