Is This “Positive” Emotion More Destructive Than Fear?

Few people ever master their fears and become successful. Why is this? The world is full of personal-growth books, seminars and other products on how to overcome fear. But there’s one emotion that’s more destructive than fear.

It’s pleasure. Pleasure traps even the smartest and most capable people in a life of mediocrity. I know, your toes are already curling in your shoes aren’t they? I don’t blame you. Most of us see pleasure as something positive. And when we think something might deprive us of pleasure, we see it as a restriction.

The truth is, pleasure will rob you of your dreams more quickly, and more subtly than fear. I’ll explain how this happens in a moment. But the real point of this blog is to show you how to master pleasure instead of being mastered by it. Once you’ve done this, you’ll become immune to the paralyzing influence of fear.

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? Are these habits inspired by fear or by pleasure? Take these habits for example…

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

Notice how ALL of these are habits are pleasure driven? How many of your self-limiting habits are the same? How much time, money and energy are you wasting on these habits? More importantly, what’s the long term cost of these habits?

Take eating junk food for instance. How much is that costing you? How much will it cost you later in life? Aren’t you more likely to live longer if you break this habit? Aren’t you more likely to get sick later in life if you don’t?

Think about the long-term impact of all your habits. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you spend ten hours or more watching TV every week? If so, that’s a total of at least 520 hours a year. That’s time you could spend…

  1. Getting a specialized education in a field you love.
  2. Starting your own blog or YouTube channel.
  3. Writing that book you’ve always wanted to write.
  4. Reading books about a topic you want to become an expert in.
  5. Learning to dance, play an instrument or speak a foreign language

Most of us think we need more time, more money or more energy before we can really get going on our goals. We think procrastination is our worst habit. In most cases, this is B.S. Our worst habit is whatever pleasurable thing we’re doing WHILE we’re procrastinating. Think about all the things on your “someday” list. How many of them are you putting off because you “don’t have the time” to do them? What pleasurable things are you doing instead?

Ambitious people aren’t necessarily more motivated than the rest of us. They just have a habit of trading what’s pleasurable for what’s VALUABLE. This is how they master the emotion which drives most of our bad habits. And again, that emotion isn’t fear. It’s pleasure.

We’ll talk about the difference between pleasure and value in a moment. First, let me be clear that I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t enjoy your life. I’m simply challenging you to make one shift in how you think about your habits…

Pleasure is a Good Servant, But a Cruel Master

If you’re not living up to your potential, it’s time to ask yourself how much pleasure really runs your life. True, pleasure greatly enhances your happiness. But it will rule your actions if you let it. And it can do it without you even noticing.

All of us, myself included, are surrounded by things that were designed to manipulate and control us.

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. How much of YOUR time is wasted helping these people build their dreams when you should be building yours?

Is the extra $100 a month you spend on junk food helping, or the people who you’re buying it from? Is the time you’re spending on Facebook helping you, or is it helping Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg? The more you ask these questions, the more you’ll realize that other people are benefiting far too much from your desire for pleasure.

There are two ways to enslave a person. The first is through physical force or intimidation. The second is 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 spite of this, most of us are far more worried about overcoming fear.

Meanwhile, pleasure is busy turning us into its servant instead of its master. Are you starting to see how pleasure can be a more destructive emotion than fear? If so, it’s time for some good news. Think about your goals again. Think about the habits that are keeping you from reaching them. Here’s what you can do to break those habits…

Your Desire for Awesomeness Must Exceed Your Desire for Pleasure

There are two kinds of pleasure…

  1. Pleasure that creates regret.
  2. Pleasure that creates value.

People who live ordinary lives sacrifice the second type of pleasure for the sake of the first. People who live extraordinary lives have a HABIT of sacrificing the first type of pleasure for the sake of the second. That’s it. The problem is, few of us ever realize why we do this.

We assume that we lack the self-control or 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 by clever systems. Nor can it be subdued by willpower. It has to be overcome by a force stronger than itself.

And that’s the root of the problem. It’s not that our desire for pleasure is too strong. It’s that our desire for value 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 is that our desire for value is far too small. Desire is a hunger. And 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. Pleasure that creates regret.
  2. Pleasure that creates value.

Pleasures that create regret are like low-hanging fruit. They’re easy to reach, and they quickly satisfy our hunger. People who live off this 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 too quickly on what’s right in front of them.

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 need to achieve your greatest dreams.

But it starts with being brutally honest about how much desire you’re wasting on ordinary pleasures. The more you say NO to these, the more motivated you’ll become to pursue and create value.

As this becomes a habit, your desire for value will overshadow all fears, doubt and worry. In time, the voice and the vision in your heart will become clearer, louder and more profound than the noises, distractions and temptations on the outside. This is how you escape the enslavement of pleasure and unleash your God-Given potential.

Again, becoming an extraordinary person isn’t about overcoming fear. It’s about finding pleasure in the things which will make you extraordinary. Things of value. And when your desire to create value exceeds your desire for the pleasure, your life will become truly extraordinary.

-Stay Awesome,

Leave a Reply