What turned you on today?
For those familiar with brain principles, neuroscientists have identified that our brains know how to do one of these two things very well: avoid pain or seek pleasure. As humans, we have always pursued pleasure as an essential part of our survival, devoting time and resources to get what we want. And it is important we understand it so we can make the right choices.
What turns us on varies from person to person and most societal systems have tried to moderate “certain pleasures” with laws and systems. In many cases, it has not worked.
Why? One very good reason is the fact that pleasure is hard-wired in all of us. Latest findings reveal that a small group of regions inside the brain called the pleasure circuit is where pleasure “lives”.
Author David Linden, a professor of Neuroscience from John Hopkins University in America has studied how the anatomy of pleasure works and how easily addictions can develop if we allow our cells, molecules and chemicals to go wild.
Well-known motivation speaker, Anthony Robbins once said:
The secret of living a successful life is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.
So what are some of the things that we can learn from the science of pleasure?
Humans perform basic activities that are rewarding to our brains such as eating, drinking and mating. Thanks to this, we are able to survive and procreate.
The brain’s circuits of pleasure become activated in the same way by both virtue and vice (ranging from orgasm, sweets, fatty acids, exercise, prayer, social approval, drugs or donating to charity). It is up to us what we choose.
What makes pleasure compelling is that these circuits are interconnected with other brain regions creating memories, associations, emotions and social meaning to the things we find rewarding.
The story of the busy business man and the sage. And the value of self-knowledge.
What would you do differently if you knew yourself better? The sage asked the busy businessman
I would not take my reactions so seriously. That is why I have asked you to come, so you can teach me how to do it, the business man replied impatiently
And how do your reactions affect you on a daily basis? The sage continued unruffled.
Well, sometimes the people who work for me do not tell me what they think and the environment becomes difficult and tense. I end up not knowing what to do and I doubt if my decisions are the right ones, the business man replied slowly.
And have you asked yourself how they feel when the atmosphere becomes tense the sage insisted.
The business man stopped to reflect for a few minutes looking at the sage perplexedly and said: How am I supposed to know what they feel? I hardly have time to think about what I need to do.
Is it possible that you have never had the chance to ask them how they feel? – asked the sage in an inquisitive manner, looking at him strongly.
In reality, it is not that there are not enough occasions to speak about these types of things. I simply prefer to avoid these moments, as I would not know what to say.
At the end of the day, they only work for me. It is enough that they do what I ask them to do, the business man said trying to justify himself.
And how do you think they feel when the atmosphere is difficult and tense? Again, asked the sage.
Man!!! I have already told you that I do not know, said the business man in an upsetting tone. Why don’t you give me three ideas so my people increase their productivity and we finish with this?
If I gave you three ideas, what would you do with them quietly asked the sage?
I would give them to my managers so they could put them on posters to put all over the place, said the business man with determination.
And what would you do next? – asked the sage.
I would then return to what I do every day. Lead my company. This is what I know and this is what I do best – the business man replied proudly.
And how about spending some time learning about yourself asked the sage?
And why would I want to do that? With the three ideas you will give me it will be enough. Everyone in the company will know what they need to do without me having to repeat it continually.
And how about spending some time learning about yourself asked the sage a second time.
There were a few minutes of absolute silence.
Perhaps I would be afraid to discover what’s inside, the business man replied in a very gentle voice. This was said without getting uptight and with a deep sincerity in his eyes.
In this Intel Visual Life short documentary, Michael Wolff, co-founder of Wolff Olins Agency and considered one of the preeminent visionaries and perhaps the father of 20th century brand expression and identity, talks about his approach to looking at the world, including the muscles of curiosity, appreciation, and imagination.