Is This “Positive” Emotion More Destructive Than Fear?

The world is full of personal-growth books, seminars and other products on how to overcome fear. So why is it that so few people master their fears and become successful?

Because fear isn’t the real problem. There’s another emotion that’s many times more destructive than fear. An emotion that confines more people to a life of mediocrity than ANY other. This emotion is pleasure.

I know, your toes are already curling in your shoes aren’t they? I don’t blame you. Most us see pleasure as a something to be sought after. And if something, or someone, tries to deprive us of pleasure, we see it as a restriction on our freedom.

But the truth is, pleasure can be rob you of your dreams more quickly, and more dramatically than fear ever could. The good news is, once you master this emotion, you’ll not only become a happier person, you’ll become immune to the paralyzing influence of fear.

Here’s why…

Freedom Comes When You Master Fear Pleasure

Think about your goals. The ones that REALLY matter to you. What everyday habits are stopping you from achieving them? Think of three to five of these habits. Make a list if you need to. Then, ask yourself whether these habits are inspired by pleasure or by fear.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea…

  1. Eating junk food – pleasure.
  2. Sleeping in – pleasure.
  3. Netflix binges – pleasure.
  4. Posting on Social Media – pleasure.
  5. Unfocused daydreaming – pleasure.

Notice ALL of these are pleasure driven habits. How many of your habits are the same? How much time, money and energy are you spending on these habits? More importantly, what’s their long term cost? Take eating junk food for instance. Are you more likely to live longer if you don’t break this habit?

How much money will this habit cost you later in life? Did you know that the primary cause of personal bankruptcy in American is out-of-control medical bills?

Think long term about your habits and be brutally honest with yourself about their cost. For example, if you spend ten hours a week watching TV, that’s 520 hours a year you COULD spend…

  1. Reading books about a topic you want to become an expert in.
  2. Starting and building your own blog or YouTube channel.
  3. Writing the book you’ve always wanted to write.
  4. Learning to dance, play an instrument or speak a foreign language.

Think about the stuff on your “someday list.” How many of them are you putting off because you don’t have the time or money to do them?

Most of us fool ourselves into thinking that we need more time, or more money or more energy before we can really get going on our goals. We tell ourselves that procrastination is our worst habit. But it’s not.

Our worst habits is whatever we’re doing WHILE we’re procrastinating. We often tell ourselves we’re waiting for the right time to do something. But how often is this an excuse not to give up what we’re choosing to do instead?

Great people create their own opportunities by trading the things they want now, for the things they REALLY want later. But this can only happen when you master the emotion that’s driving your bad habits. And for most of us, that emotion isn’t fear. It’s pleasure.

Now, don’t mistake me. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t enjoy your life. I’m simply challenging you to make ONE CHANGE in how you think about your habits…

Pleasure is a Fine Servant, But a Cruel Master

Pleasure greatly enhances our experience of life. But if we allow it, it can also rule our actions. If you’re not living up to your potential, it could be time to ask yourself how much pleasure really rules your life.

We’re all pretty good at fooling ourselves into believing we have more control over our life than we really do. But the truth is, ALL of us are surrounded by people and by things which seek to manipulate and to control us. And most of them do this not by force, but by pleasure.

People want us buy their products, watch their TV shows or their movies, listen to their music, spend time on their websites, and to believe in or promote their ideas. The question is, how much of YOUR time is wasted helping these people build their dreams when you could be building yours?

Is that extra $100 a month you spend on junk food doing more good for you or for the people you’re buying it from?

Is the time you’re spending on Social Media doing more to build your dreams, or to increase the ad revenue of the person who owns the site?

The more you ask such questions, the more you’ll realize that other people have more control over your choices than you thought they did. And most of them aren’t using force to do it.

There two ways to enslave a person. The first is to use physical force. The second is to appeal to their need for pleasure. While the second is far more effective, most of us are far more worried about the first. This is part of the problem. We should be more wary of those who seek to control us through pleasure.

By appealing to our immediate desires, a person can persuade us to give up our time, money or attention in exchange for something that won’t matter at all tomorrow. In time, our pursuit of these things becomes a habit that’s damn hard to break. This how pleasure becomes our master instead of our servant.

Think about your goals again. Think about the habits that are keeping you from reaching them. Are you starting to see how pleasure can be a more destructive emotion than fear? If so, here’s what you can do about it…

Your Desire for Awesomeness Must Exceed Your Desire for Pleasure

There are two kinds of pleasures in life…

  1. Pleasures that create regret.
  2. Pleasures that create value.

People who live extraordinary lives have a HABIT of sacrificing the first type of pleasure to create the second. Meanwhile people who live ordinary lives, and who only enjoy fleeting happiness, sacrifice the second type of pleasure to create the first.

Most of us already know this. But few of us realize WHY we do it. We assume that we lack the self-control or the motivation to say “no” to temporary pleasures.

We try to beat our desires into submission using budgets, time-management systems, accountability partners, to-do-lists, day planners and other tools and techniques.

But human desire can’t be tamed using clever systems. It can’t be subdued through pure reason either. Instead, we have to realize the real root of the problem. It’s not that our desire for ordinary pleasures is too strong. It’s that our desire extraordinary pleasures is too weak. C.S. Lewis once wrote…

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

– C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory.”

This quote, especially the final line, hits the nail right on the head. Again, the problem isn’t that our desire for ordinary pleasures is too great. The problem is that our desire for extraordinary ones is far too small. Desire is a hunger. Every time you satisfy your desires on ordinary pleasures, you lesson your appetite for extraordinary ones.

Think about the two types of pleasure again…

  1. Pleasures that create regret.
  2. Pleasures that create value.

Pleasures that create regret are like low-hanging fruit. People who live off of low-hanging fruit don’t do it because they lack the motivation to climb to where the higher fruit is.

They do it because they satisfy their desires on what’s right in front of them, instead of saving their appetite for something greater. As C.S. Lewis said…

“We are far too easily pleased.”

When your desire to create value is strong enough, you’ll find all the motivation you ever needed to achieve your greatest dreams. But this starts with being brutally honest about how much of your desire you’re wasting on ordinary pleasures.

The more you say no to the ordinary things in life, the greater your desire will become for the things that really matter. As this happens, you’ll discover that you have plenty of motivation for achieving your dreams. You were just burning it up on ordinary things.

As you start to say no to these things, your desire for extraordinary things will overshadow every fear, doubt and worry in your life.

The voice and the vision in your heart will become clearer, louder and more profound than the noises, distractions and the temptations on the outside. This is how you escape the enslavement of every day pleasures and unleash your God-Given potential.

Becoming an extraordinary person isn’t about overcoming fear. It’s about finding pleasure in the things which will make you extraordinary. And when your desire for these things exceeds your desire for the ordinary pleasures of life, your life will become truly extraordinary.

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