When You Are Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired
Most people want to better their lives in some form or another. I am no exception and have had my own fair share of struggles to be a better person and to achieve various goals. Each person has their own set of goals, desires and dreams. Some common changes that people would like to make in their lives are:
- Losing weight
- Getting fit
- Making more money
- Finding a better job
- Having better relationships
- Becoming happier
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Learning to forgive themselves and others
- Starting a business
- Eliminating regret and sadness
- Living an exciting and meaningful life
Some successfully achieve their goals while many others do not. What is the difference between the two groups of people? Motivation. Some people seem to be more motivated while others are not. But why the disparity?
For example, I do not know of any overweight person who would not like to lose weight and be fit. Many have succeeded and are an inspiration to others. But many others do not take action and either stay overweight or even gain weight. The only difference is motivation.
Humans are basically motivated by two things: avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. Almost every decision we make is based on this principle. It is also important to note that pain and pleasure can be broken down into short term pain, long term pain, as well as short term pleasure and long term pleasure.
Let me shed some light on my own personal story. There was a time when I was overweight, unfit, and I felt horrible. Even though I had been very active in sports when younger, I had let myself go over the years and I hated it. My diet was atrocious, I would get breathless after any slight exertion, and I kept buying bigger-sized jeans because my old ones simply did not fit me any longer. I lived this way for quite a few years even though, deep inside, I knew that I wanted to be fitter and healthier.
It was only after I did a lot of painful soul-searching that I finally decided to change my ways and get fit. I started exercising daily and slowly improved my diet. What caused this change in behavior? I was fed up of being fed up. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. One might say that I hit rock bottom when it came to my health.
I realized that it all boiled down to how I viewed pain and pleasure, both short term and long term. When it came to exercise and proper nutrition, I had a tendency to avoid anything that I deemed painful like the plague. To make matters worse, if I believed that something was pleasurable, I wanted it. So, not only did I avoid exercise and healthy food (pain), I also fell in love with being sedentary and eating unhealthy food (pleasure). Sitting on the couch while drinking beer and eating a lot of pizza became all too common for me. I knew I had to make changes.
I took a long, hard look at how I viewed both pain and pleasure. By choosing to avoid short term pain and discomfort, I saw that I was actually setting up myself to be miserable (long term pain). And by constantly seeking short term pleasure, I was, in essence, depriving myself of feeling healthy (long term pleasure).
I decided to view exercise and healthy nutrition as short term sacrifices to feeling good in the long run. I told myself constantly that the short term discomfort was worth it because I knew I would experience long term pleasure in the long run. Now, do not get me wrong, the first few weeks of eating healthy and going to the gym were not easy, but I stuck with it. Slowly, but surely, I began to see positive results. I lost body fat while gaining muscle and I was able to fit into my old jeans again. The day-to-day progress I experienced motivated me to persevere and, eight years later, I still exercise regularly and generally eat healthy food (I do cheat and indulge once in awhile!).
Today, I am more aware of the pain vs. pleasure principle and am better able to make better choices in my life. I now view short-term pain as a good thing because it is a sign that I am venturing out of my comfort zone. I know that it will eventually lead to long term pleasure and happiness. Similarly, I am better able to resist short term pleasure because I am aware that it often leads to long term pain. That is how I motivate myself, especially when I do not feel like doing something that I know I should.
All of us sometimes struggle with motivation, especially when it pertains to doing something scary, challenging or different. We are often so set in our ways and, especially, in the way we think. By looking at short term pain in a positive light and recognizing that it will lead to long term pleasure, we can become more motivated to make changes in our lives for the better.
What I have learned is that avoiding short term pain and chasing short term pleasure only leads to long term misery. And, personally, that has only led me to feel sick and tired of being sick and tired.