We take action based on the pain we want to escape right – or the pleasure we want to feel – right now, in this very moment… Which often leads to bad long-term consequences.
A solution to this: for every pain or pleasure impulse in the moment, zoom out to consider medium- and long-term timeframes. Then give more weight to the longer-term timeframes than to instant gratification.
- How will it make me feel right now?
- How will it make me feel in a couple of hours?
- How will it make me feel in the long run (weeks, months, years)?
Being aware and present enough to consider these timeframes can be enough to change harmful behavior.
Eating a bag of chips might make me feel good in the moment because it tastes good and gives me an instant rush.
A couple of hours later, I might feel bloated.
And in the long run, I might gain weight, develop diseases,….
Since the long run has priority over instant gratification, I better avoid eating too many crisps.
A salad with broccoli and spinach taste ok in the moment, but nothing special.
Soon after finishing it, I’ll probably feel energized without any blood sugar spike or feeling drowsy.
And in the long run, such it keep me healthy, boosts brain function and more.
Since the long run has priority over instant gratification, I better eat many of these greens.
Starting a workout usually doesn’t feel so good (especially not right before): I’m trying to avoid present pain.
But right after, endorphins start rushing through my body and pain makes way for pleasure.
In the long run, as my physical health improves, the positive effects blow any minor present pain out of the water.
Three more questions to consider:
- Will this lead to long-term pain or pleasure? If both, which one more?
- Which immediate (medium-term) pleasure will this painful action bring?
- Who do I want to be? (Every action I take is a vote for who I want to be so I better put my actions where my mouth is.