what motivates you: pleasure or pain?

Do you work hard to avoid the embarrassment of not having enough and making good on your promises? Or…do you work hard because there’s so much of life to experience and you want it all? Reputation, or self-satisfaction. What the Joneses think, or the merit of your inclinations. The destination, or the journey. The fact is that when it comes to motivation and goal-reaching, you’re either avoiding the whip, or going for the gold.


When you’re focused on the rewards of what you’re doing, you’re in the driver’s seat of your life. Whether the reward is feeling powerful; or it’s the best cashmere that money can buy, or it’s a mental health day off of work, when your intention is fixed on moving forward you’re taking full responsibility for getting where you want to go. And when satisfaction is up to you, it’s much sweeter when you get it.


When your choices are based on deflecting or avoiding uncomfortable feelings, like embarrassment or regret or dislocation, you’re taking a back seat to your true power. When you’re focused on what you could lose, the possible winnings shrivel in direct proportion to your fear of loss. And even if you get what you supposedly want, you’ve still put yourself in a crazy game of dodging the bad stuff in hopes of getting the good stuff. As Lily Tomlin put it, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”

The great fear motivators of human nature:
: What other people think of me: I better do what’s expected.
: What other people want from me: I better give all that I can.
: What other people can give to me: I better be nice to get what I want.

If your to-do list is based on avoiding pain, you may as well hook yourself up to a laser that jolts you every time you dare to make a self-fulfilling decision.

I’d rather be in the Bahamas. Zzzzzt! I should dump the chump. Zzzzzt! I was made for greater things than this. Zzzzzt!

Studies show that positive reinforcement with children fosters self-esteem and better problem-solving skills. Praise the good, deflect the bad. The power of accentuating the positive isn’t something we grow out of. In fact, the practice of cultivating positivity is defines a life.

Positively powerful motivators:

If your choices elicit a full-on yes! to any of the following questions, then you’re choosing from a place of true creative power.

: Is this moving me forward?
: Do I feel more like myself?
: Does this clear the way for good stuff to show up?
: Will I sleep peacefully tonight?
: Would my kid {or grandma, or best friend} be proud of me?

The great shift from the pain motivation to pleasure motivation, is based on trust, of course. Trusting that when you say no to what doesn’t serve you, life says yes to your greatness. Trusting that you deserve to be fulfilled. Period. No justifications necessary. And trusting that you will get what you want by being true to yourself.

The rewards are infinite…and they feel real good.

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