The power of doing hard things
Seek pleasure, avoid pain, and do both of these things while expending the least amount of energy. This is basically our motivational triad. That explains how we survived. And it makes a lot of sense, right. It makes it’s actually incredibly. Makes a lot of sense, right? When you think about humans, thousands of years ago in a world full of danger, when you didn’t know where your next meal was coming or where it was coming from, right?
When shelter and basic necessities for life, weren’t a given when violence was around every corner. There were hard things all over our environment, right? Just existing, just living was hard. Surviving was hard. And so looking for easy solutions, right? Looking for ways to seek pleasure and avoid pain by using the least amount of energy as possible.
So the easiest way to do it. That was a smart thing to do that helped us survive. That was a really beneficial way that our brain evolved to look for easy things to do. Right. It makes a lot of sense when you’re doing hard stuff all the time just to survive. Now, here’s the problem. In today’s world. If you are listening to this, most of us do not have to do that many hard things in order to survive.
Right. I certainly did not have to do and have not had to do a lot of hard, really difficult things in order to survive. Food has been pretty easy to get clean water is as simple as you know, turning on the tap shelter has never been a question for me. I’m not. Always facing a world in which violence is always coming around the corner.
And you know what. My brain is kind of happy that I don’t have to do difficult things to survive, right. It likes not spending a lot of energy. And when you have to do difficult things to survive, you have to expend a lot of energy. My brain likes to save energy because that’s what has essentially allowed humans to.
Right. It was saving energy, expending the least amount of energy and moving towards pleasure and moving away from pain that allowed for survival. But we’re in a very different world than we were thousands of years ago. Right. When we don’t have to do a lot of us, very difficult things in order to survive.
So then choosing something difficult to do like changing a habit. Changing any habit is going to require energy and changing. The habit of overeating will be a difficult thing to do. It will require awareness and energy and doing things that make you feel kind of uncomfortable, right? That is actually kind of going against the grain of E.
It does not come naturally for most of us. And this is also part of why overeating can so easily become a habit because also our brain wants to seek pleasure. It wants easy pleasure. So eating right. I’ve talked about this before. It is the quickest and easiest fix to feel differently. And for a lot of us, not only are we getting the reward of pleasure, not only are we getting the influx of dopamine, but eating is also solving a difficulty for us, right?
It is solving how we don’t wanna feel in this moment. It is solving our desire, not to feel stressed or anxious or uncomfortable or bored or lonely. Whatever it is. It’s also solving a problem. Your brain wants instant gratification, but not only that it wants easy instant gratification and then easy, instant gratification that solves a problem.
Well, that’s just like hitting the jackpot, right? The problem. If you keep going towards that easy instant gratification and that easy instant gratification to solve a problem, to take care of a difficulty, a difficulty that your brain already doesn’t wanna deal with. It doesn’t want to do the hard thing.
And, you know, this guy was afraid that the ship was going to get stuck in an ice pack. Right. Like that’s a hard thing to get out of, but afterwards, When he got back and then throughout his life, he couldn’t stop talking about how great this voyage was. He could, he couldn’t stop talking about how it had set him up for so many things, including becoming a great writer.
I had flip flopped, you know, lost weight, gained weight over eight, not over eight, many times in my twenties. I had given up, you know, Overeating I lost weight when I was 22. And the growth for, for me really was not in that. It was not in just repetitive saying no over and over and over again. And in fact, I found, you know, that experience kind of miserable.
To feel connected, right. To feel relaxed, to feel calm, to feel self-possessed right. And that was what was so powerful for me. And I will tell you, I wouldn’t trade that experience for a second because I am someone who’s different. On the other side of it, I was forced to grow. I was forced to stretch in ways.
I didn’t even think at the. We’re really possible. And I’ll tell you that I also don’t regret all the years that I was over eating. And it was really a struggle for me and it was causing a lot of pain and it was something that I spent so much time worrying about and thinking about and beating myself up over.
But I wouldn’t trade in that time either because I needed that period. Right. I needed that in order to become this next version of myself, I needed that. In order to grow overeating for me. And I’m sure for you is comfort. Right. It’s easy. Right? I don’t have to grow. You don’t have to stretch. You don’t have to really do anything at all to feel different other than, you know, scoop up the ho Hogan Doss.
Right? It’s simple. It’s easy. It gives you immediate pleasure, right? Instant gratification. And not only that, it moves you away from pain and it does this with almost expending. Zero energy, right? I mean, think about the energy your brain has to expend to get ice cream, right? It’s very little, it’s especially very little.
If you have a gallon in your freezer or, you know, if you just walk up to a parlor ice cream parlor, or if you ask a waiter for a bowl of ice cream, right. It’s very little energy that you’re exp. So, yes, for me, overeating was causing me a lot of pain and there were tons and tons of repercussions. . And as I continued, right, as I got older, the repercussions started to Mount, but my brain was on the path of least resistance.
And sometimes our brains will choose something easy at our own expense. And that’s what I was doing. Right. I was choosing something easy at my own expense and the more comfortable my brain was at relying on food as a way to feel differently and to feel better. And also just a way to feel good, right. To get pleasure in my life.
The more I stagnated, right. The more I didn’t grow, the more I didn’t evolve because I wasn’t expending any energy. I was just doing the same thing over and over. I think about it sometimes. And I really had the hangups and the fears and the awkwardness of a 13 year old girl really locked inside the mind of a woman in her thirties because I wasn’t making any progress in any of.
Right. I wasn’t making any progress in feeling less awkward or feeling less uncomfortable or feeling less anxious. Right? All those same negative feelings that I had when I was 13. And I started overeating, guess what? They were still there. they hadn’t really budged. I hadn’t made progress because I kept turning to the same solution.
I kept feeling awkward or feeling uncomfortable and deciding I would have a. Right. It was easy. It was pleasurable. It helped me avoid pain. It took almost zero energy, but it was stunting my growth and making me feel miserable at the same time. And that piece about stunting my growth. That was the piece that took me the longest to understand.
And I didn’t understand how it wasn’t just that I was choosing pleasure. It wasn’t just that I was in a habit it’s that I was actually stunting my own development and my own evolution as a person choosing the easiest thing. Kept humans alive back in the day when we were faced with having to do hard things and difficult things all day long, just to survive.
We were expending all of this energy just to get food, just to get shelter, just to be safe. And so choosing the path of least resistance made sense. It made a lot of sense. But now most of us are in a situation where we’re actually expending very little energy to survive very little energy, to get food, to get clean water, to get shelter, to be safe, but our brain is still choosing the easy way forward.
We’re caught up in seeking comfort over and over. And it’s never occurring to us that we should even have to do the hard thing because our brain is programmed not to wanna do the hard thing because it thinks doing the easy thing is how we survive. Now. Listen, here’s the crazy thing. Not only are we choosing the easy thing to do.
But by using food as a quick and easy fix to feel better, we start to tell ourselves that without that fix, we’ll be unhappy. We won’t have fun. We’ll be missing out. Life will be boring. So, not only are we choosing the easy thing, but then we turn around and we kind of, don’t like the fact that we’re relying on food as our go-to way to feel good, our go-to way to have fun our go-to way, not to be bored or to get through the party, to make these other people more interesting.
You know, I don’t know what if I fail right. You get to define what your metric for success and failure look like. And if I overate tomorrow, I wouldn’t decide that I had been a failure that I had failed because that’s not the metric that I use. But all of this work, right? It takes being uncomfortable. It takes choosing the hard thing you have to do.
What is difficult and go against your brain’s instinct for everything to be easy, but it’s so worth it. It’s really hard to explain this to someone who has never experienced being pulled to eat more than they want. Right. Feeling more desire than they want to have feeling like eating often feels like this insatiable thing that they don’t have full control over.
But if you feel like that, right, then you will understand that to be free of your desire. Right to feel like you have control to feel like you are not being pulled in this direction that you don’t wanna go. That is the best feeling in the world. And that is the power of doing hard things, right. That is something that you have to choose to work on and practice.
Right. It will go against what your brain wants. It will be uncomfortable. It will require effort, but you will look back on it the same way that I do. And you will think, wow, that thing, that difficult thing that I did that was uncomfortable and that I struggled through and I had to deal with all these difficult feelings and situations.
That was the best decision I ever made. And not just because you won’t have to spend all this time thinking about your eating or worrying about your overeating or worrying about what you ate last night, but because you will grow as a person, you will become someone that you weren’t before you started.