In 2002 Diet Coke launched their new marketing slogan:
“Do what feels good.”
It was just another ploy in a slew of ad campaigns designed to hijack the human desire to seek pleasure. We’re wired after all to move toward pleasure, and away from pain.
So it’s no surprise that sales skyrocketed.
Whether it’s messages to inhale soft drinks or to buy the latest smartphone, we’re habituated to elevate feeling good over everything else.
And it’s no wonder, because pain/pleasure impulse is a natural evolutionary trait that has served us well as humans for millions of years. Negative emotions tell us something is wrong and we need to retreat or change course. Positive emotions are a reward, telling us to keep doing that whatever lead to that joyful experience.
The problem: evolution never took into account modern life and the glut of opportunities we have now for fast, easy, short-term pleasure (like drinking soda or buying the latest gadget), even when our body or bank account is telling us it may not be the smartest decision.
It can feel good in the moment to treat yourself by going out to eat every day, even though you have a mountain of debt and bills to pay. After all, you should do what feels good, right?
But in this case, doing what feels good is keeping you trapped in the dead end job you hate, because you’re doing what feels good in the moment vs. doing what will make you feel good long term.
That’s why I’m suggesting you do what feels bad.
It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes you need to…
- Feel bad not eating out so you can pay your debt off faster and create more freedom and spaciousness in your life.
- Feel bad going to the gym, so you can feel better later… even though it “feels good” to just relax and watch another episode of The Walking Dead.
- Feel bad working on building your business, because you’re scared, and don’t know what the hell you’re doing, because you’ll feel better knowing that you’re actually making progress and taking action no matter what.
Nature never intended for you to be in a situation where you might have to do what feels bad, in the favor of creating a long term future that feels better than the short term hamster wheel of pleasure seeking.
What can you do today that feels bad, so you can feel better later?