“Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. . . they govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think.” — Jeremy Bentham, 1748 – 1832. British lawyer and philosopher.
The topic for today’s article is: Feelings of Pain and Pleasure, Number seven in this series based on the 12 Attributes of Human Functioning put forth by Michael Murphy and George Leonard. When writing about pain and pleasure in this context, it’s not just about the actual physical feeling of pain and pleasure as an attribute of human functioning, it’s about how all human behavior is based on feelings of pain and pleasure? Pain or pleasure are the single most important motivators of all human behavior. Most people act to move toward pleasure, or move away from pain. Of the two, moving away from pain has been recognized by motivational philosophers as the strongest of the two motivators.
“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.” — Aristotle
Advertisers have recognized this for millennia, and use avoidance of pain and suffering as the basis for most pharmaceutical advertisements addressed to seniors. Yet pleasure seeking is the basis for so many of the travel advertisements in publications such as the AARP Magazine.
How does pain and pleasure relate to Health, Fitness and Personal Energy for Active Older Adults?
To some, exercise represents pain; to others, pleasure. Is it the exercise itself, or is it the feeling you get after exercise? I personally feel good when I exercise. I enjoy the actual exercise itself, as well as the good feeling I get after exercise. Other’s complain during the entire process, and complain further about how tired they feel, or how beat up they feel after exercise. Others like the feeling, but not the process.
The same with food. Some get pleasure from cooking and eating good, healthful food. Other shy away from healthful food, turning instead to the short term pleasure of carry out or fast food. Sometimes a hamburger from MacDonald’s seems so enticing that you are physically and mentally drawn to the Golden Arches with feelings of potential pleasure. But twenty minutes after eating that greasy treat, your stomach feels like lead, and the pleasure you derived from that convenient meal changes to discomfort and un-ease (you can spell that “dis-ease” after a lifetime of fast food). The short term pleasure turns to physical and mental anguish, usually for most of the afternoon.
“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
As long as we understand our motivations, we have the ability to control our actions. We then have the ability to make wise decisions about our Health and Fitness and to take full responsibility for our actions. That’s why our feelings of pain and pleasure are important enough to be on the list of 12 Attributes of Human Functioning.
Thank you for reading.