THE BLOG

Pleasure From Pleasure vs. Pleasure From Pain

01/11/2012 05:49 pm ET | Updated Mar 12, 2012

I'm working on a play about how we got into this mess in the first place. I'd like to run it by you.

Act One: Poor diets and lack of physical activity.

Act Two: Depression, stagnation and lethargy.

Act Three: Finger pointing and/or the constant pursuit of the quick fix.

Dénouement: the aforementioned mess.

Think of it as Arthur Miller by way of Tony Horton. I plan to call it Death of an American Work Ethic: How we try to get what we want with the least possible effort. I'm hoping for a Broadway opening this spring. What do ya think?

My inspiration, obviously, came from pondering what a lazy lot we've become. For some reason, too many of us have forgotten (or have never been taught) that joy, happiness, health, fitness, loving relationships and financial success all stem from hard work, persistence and the occasional bit of physical, mental or emotional discomfort.

Remember the aches of childhood growing pains? How about stress of cramming for finals your senior year of high school? What about the terror of your first job interview? Your first broken heart?

None of these were especially pleasant experiences, but you benefitted from all of them. You grew stronger, bigger, wiser and smarter. You learned grace under pressure. But despite these benefits, we've become a society that avoids discomfort like the plague. The Buddhists like to say, "Life is pain." I don't know if I'm ready to be quite that absolute, but I will admit that a tenant of the human condition requires you to sometimes take painful steps to get what you desire.

Ironically, avoiding suffering just causes many of us to suffer all the more. Obesity. Ignorance. Heart conditions. Diabetes. Depression. Millions of Americans suffer needlessly because they don't have the right formula for success. These are not stupid people; they just don't know how to work for what they want. Somewhere along the way, they (wrongly) learned that the good things in life come from playing the lottery, having affairs, manipulating the truth, risking quick-fix surgeries or riding somebody else's coattails whenever they have to deal with something important.

I call this misguided method the "Pleasure from Pleasure" technique. It's a short-term, shortsighted shortcut strategy that is ultimately short on results. Furthermore, it inevitably backfires. The end result is mental, physical and emotional pain with no real pleasure in sight.

Luckily, I'm not done writing my play yet. That last, depressing act three is up for grabs, so take a cue from the millions of Americans before us who made this country great. Roll up your sleeves and get busy. Need a place to start? How about getting a little exercise every day and making a few healthier food choices? It won't be easy. You're gonna sweat. You're gonna ache. Your tummy's going to rumble. But your hard work will pay off quickly, inspiring you to apply the same work ethic to other aspects of your life. Soon, you'll discover that whatever you're working on -- be it your business plan or your body, your wellbeing or your wallet -- will be richly rewarded with a little effort.

And you'll be helping Tony win a Tony.

For more by Tony Horton, click here.

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