“Underlying everything is a desire for pleasure.”

Over the next few posts, I’ll try to build up a model that enables a better understanding of what motivates us to action and therefore makes us do what we do – or not do what we don’t do.

Underlying everything is the basic assumption that everything we do is motivated desire for pleasure weighed against the prevention of pain.

This means that our mind is constantly asking the question of will what I want to do cause me pain based on previous experience, and if so how much, and is it still worth taking the action or lack of action.

Rule number one about people is that we are pleasure seekers.  So far so good.  (Note to salesmen – first sales pitch needs to speak to this point right away – how does your item or service provide pleasure?)

However, in childhood, we quickly learn that the world is bigger than us, and that we don’t get everything we want since there are limited resources, and others vying for the same resources that we want.  The baby is hungry at 2AM, but the mom wants to sleep.  So along the way, we learn that we don’t always get what we desire, which is a lack and certainly a concrete form of pain.

We don’t like pain, so we start preventing pain as much as we can by manipulating our world.  First we cry, then we throw temper tantrums, then we ask nicely, and so on.

The net result is that we learn early on that in the desire for pleasure, if we don’t naturally get pleasure, to prevent pain and find pleasure, we manipulate the world through whatever means we find so as to help assuage our pain.

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