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The single biggest motivator to action in any area of life is pleasure or the promise of it. For each individual, this will have a vastly different meaning, but essentially, what consistently drives us is a desire to experience whatever is it that spells pleasure for us.
On the downside, this powerful motivator is what keeps us going back for more even when we know something may not be in our best interests. It is the root of our addictions and can become a serious problem if we allow our will to be completely overridden by our pleasure dependence.
That is not to say that pleasure is the enemy – without pleasure, life can be very drab indeed! But when we forgo our health, relationships, responsibilities, and needs just to get what we want, we can rapidly find ourselves in a situation that is difficult to get out of and finally is not at all what we were looking for.
The great news is that the knowledge of how this mechanism works can be turned into a fabulous tool for taking our life back into our own hands. By becoming aware of how our lust for pleasure guides our choices, we can consciously redirect our concept of pleasure, translating positive life choices into something we truly want, and not just a guilty obligation.
How can we do this? When we reach for our favorite comfort foods, we are seeking the rush that we get from eating them. The after-effects, which may be sluggishness, indigestion, or unwanted weight, are a secondary consideration, delayed in time and therefore less immediate to our childish desire for instant gratification.
Here is where we experience an internal conflict. One aspect of ourselves is urging us to act on behalf of the immediate desire and another part is painfully aware that to do so would compromise our deepest wishes or our resolve to change. The problem is that we associate that part with denial of pleasure, which is where we often tend to lose the battle. The trick is to turn this cycle around at the fundamental level of feeling.
By transferring the powerful drive of pleasurable anticipation to the excitement of knowing how great we will feel when we eat the foods that are going to have us bursting with energy and feeling great about ourselves, we are already halfway to changing our habits. It is so simple but surprisingly effective! With a little conscious re-direction, some day-dreaming, and visualization about all the benefits and rewards that healthy habits will bring, coupled with a determination to outgrow your own programming, you can become who you have always known you could be. And this reality is closer than you think.
While you are there, you can re-script some old ideas about what is satisfying on a culinary level, replacing some of the less nourishing options with truly delicious healthy alternatives that will have you salivating for your next meal. Begin at your own pace and don’t be overwhelmed. Wherever you are is the best place to start and every little step makes a difference!