Psychology tag

Redefining Pain

redefining pain

A hundred billion neurons.  Ten trillion cells.  One hundred trillion bacteria.  All of this influenced by an immeasurable number of environmental and biological factors.

Human beings are complex creatures, aren’t they?

If you look through a microscope, perhaps.  If you take a step back, however, human behavior can be summarized in one sentence.

We move toward pleasure and away from pain. 

In most situations, pain plays a greater role in our motivation.  Burning your hand on a hot coal, walking across broken glass, or getting punched in the face with a baseball bat are all painful situations, however this is typically not the kind of pain that influences our behavior.  What pain does move us?

It depends on how you define pain.  More accurately, it depends on what you choose to believe is painful.

For most, uncertainty is the greatest source of pain.  Even if our current situation isn’t ideal- or far from it- we are more likely to continue with the status quo because we can predict the outcome.  What lies behind door #2 could be your wildest dreams realized.  It could also be humiliation, failure, ridicule.  The potential pleasure is overshadowed by this potential pain, so we choose the familiar route, the certain route, the easy route.

What’s the problem with doing what’s easy?


We settle.  We fail to grow.  We lower our own bar.  We become a victim of our own limitations.

Worst of all, we lose our edge.  When everything is easy, nothing is exciting.

Redefining Pain

The first step for changing this course is to redefine what we interpret as pain.

Which is worse?

[Short term] The rejection that comes from a failed attempt of hitting on the girl at the bar or [Long term] a lifetime of loneliness?

[Short term] The humiliation of not being able to follow through on a publicly stated goal or [Long term] the complete absence of self-confidence?

[Short term] The failure that comes from “unsuccessfully” pursuing an entrepreneurial venture or [Long term] marinating in regret on your deathbed?

When we take a bigger picture look at what’s painful, pain and pleasure change camps.  What’s easy becomes hard.

What’s hard becomes easy.

How To Accomplish Anything: The 2011 New Year’s Resolution Edition

Accomplishing anything can be achieved in one simple step.

I normally charge people $9,995.00 to obtain this ancient skill, but because it’s the holiday season, and the Apple Store was all out of iPads, I will give you this instead.  I hope you like it (no 3G coverage, sorry).

The Only Secret You Need to Accomplish Anything

1)  Stop telling yourself, “you can’t”.

That’s it.  You can now do anything.

See you in 2011!


(Perhaps I’ll elaborate a bit) Read more

The Social Skew – How Social Media is Redefining Our Social Circles

the social skew - how social media is redefining our social circles

I must be an abysmal salesman.

No matter how hard I try, I consistently fail in persuading some of my closest friends to adopt social media.  Although the vast majority have at least created a Facebook account (there are still the chosen few who refuse), many of these do little more than collect e-dust.  One post per season is a lot to ask from many of my BFFs.  I’m guessing you’ve got at least a few friends who fit this mold as well.

It would be fair to assume that because my closest companions either rarely or never use social media, my interest in its use would be diminished.  After all, Facebook feeds me my friends’ activity.  If my friends are largely inactive, what’s the point?

In theory, this would make sense.  In actuality, the theory fails miserably.  I don’t “check” Facebook, because checking is something you do periodically (i.e. “Billy, go check the mail”).  I am “on” Facebook (i.e. “Billy go camp by the mailbox, aggressively rip the mail out of the postman’s hands, read it, and then immediately go back on the lookout”).

So what’s the appeal? Read more

Positive Reinforcement and Social Media – The New Era of Marketing

The New Era of Marketing

Once upon a time, in the land of commercial advertising, 30 seconds of persuasion, art, and/or deception was the recipe in trying to win over a prospective customer’s business.   In television and radio’s infancy stages, this proved to be an excellent return on investment.  At the time, when the concept of motion picture was still a novelty, consumers were not only willing to sit through Pepsi’s elevator pitch on why you should drink their cola, but they were actively engaged, even seeking entertainment.

Throughout the years, however, advertising went from a novel byproduct of entertainment to a virus that consumed it.  As the relative cost of advertising decreased, the percentage of businesses who bought into it increased.  As the number of channels and shows available increased, the percentage of time dedicated to non-sponsored programming decreased.  As the consumers attention span during a commercial decreased, the prevalence of unethical brainwashing tactics increased. Eventually the lines between advertising and entertainment completely evaporated with the use of product placement and brand sponsoring.

Those who weren’t entirely immune, had at least grown skeptical.  Those who were neither, were children.

Read the rest of the post at TECH Cocktail

Consider the Alternative

Human beings are irrational.  I believe I’ve touched on this point once or twice before.  Good thing for me, there’s enough material on this topic to write an entirely separate blog which could be actively updated for as long as the pro-life/pro-choice debate has been ongoing (which is scheduled to conclude on 2012 when everyone, minus John Cusack, will be dead.  Whatever his personal belief is will be the answer.)

The particular example of irrationality that I’m referring to has to do with decision making.  More specifically, the lack of analysis prior to making a decision. Thoughtful analysis when making a decision with any degree of importance seems like an obvious step, but you’d be surprised how often it’s bypassed.  Let’s dig a bit deeper… Read more