The Motivational Triad


We Seek Pleasure, Avoid Pain, Exert the Least Amount of Effort

In the past, our brains taught us to survive by seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and exerting the least amount of effort. Our brains were programmed to think this way. It protected us from any kind of discomfort.

The first thing is we have been motivated to seek pleasure. When we seek pleasure, we survive. We seek connection with other humans. We seek food, which taste good and keeps us alive. We seek sex, which feels good and involves us in procreation. All of these types of seeking pleasure have helped us survive in the world.

The second part of the motivational triad is to avoid pain. We've kept ourselves away from things that hurt us. We have kept ourselves away from anything that's caused emotional pain. This has kept us alive. Pain is built into the human experience as a way of survival.

The third thing in the motivational triad that has kept us alive is expending the least amount of effort. We have reserved our energy for things that really matter which is our survival. Again, we are designed and we are evolved to seek pleasure, to avoid pain and to exert the least amount of effort as possible. This is what has gotten us to this point but that exact motivational triad that we've evolved to is the exact problem that we are going to have when it comes to moving into our futures because all of the things that got us here are the exact opposite of what are going to get us to the next stage in our lives.


Now there is a huge sense of dissatisfaction in our lives, but why?


We live more comfortable lives than ever before, yet we are never happy.


We overcompensate with everything we think we want, but still can’t find fulfillment.


We buffer with things like over eating, over drinking….. etc. But why, when we have so much in our lives already?


It is easier to survive than it ever has been before. There in-lies the problem.


So here we are…... The motivational triad is the exact problem that we are having when we try to move into the future. So, all of those things that got us here are the exact opposite of what needs to get us to the next stage in our lives. We need to change the Motivational Triad to the exact opposite of what it has been.


We are in a world and environment that has way too much pleasure that is at our finger tips. Everything is so accessible to us. We are a pleasure-seeking species with too much to choose from. There is sex, via pornography, there is connection via Facebook, there is alcohol and drugs everywhere.

Those pleasures are now destroying us.


Here is how we change it:

Past vs Future Focus

The Fix is the Opposite of the Triad:


Seeking pleasure:

We start out when we are young being future focused (crawling to walking, from grade school to high school, from one job to another, from dating to marriage, etc. ) Always wanting the next thing, the next step, wondering who am I going to be? What are the possibilities?


But then, over 25 years, in our 30’s 40’s, 50’s we stop looking in a future focused way and stop asking “who do I want to be?” But rather we then start saying “who am I?” We look to our past for that answer. We look to our past to define us by what we have done, who we married, what job we have, etc. When you look to your past for answers, you can only re-create more of your past.


The good news is that we can look to our future for answers now.

Explore your life from your future. Put effort in rather than exert the least amount.

We need to process negative emotion all the way through. Don't be afraid to feel the good and bad emotions. We need to learn how to process negative emotion rather than avoid the pain of them.

We need to find pleasure in our current life and our future plans rather than seeking artificial pleasures that are temporary and meaningless.


Let's talk more about this concept. Sign up for your free mini session at kmessin.wixsite.com/coach

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