Fortune Friday: “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

In many ways people are dumb animals. We may think we are deep and layered and complicated, but most of the time we are fairly simple. Most of our choices, according to Tony Robbins, are motivated by increasing pleasure or avoiding pain. Me, caveman. Want more good. Want less bad.

We can dress up any scenario as much as we like. We can add complicated context, interesting characters and settings, etc. But in the end, our decisions and actions will be based basically on more pleasure or less pain.

Been putting off a crucial conversation with your spouse? You’re trying to avoid pain.

Buying that special someone a thoughtful gift? You’re hoping for a pleasurable reward.

Showing up on time to work every day? You’re hoping to keep your job and you enjoy getting paychecks.

There really are no absolute have-to’s in this life. We may think there are, but there aren’t. Everything is a choice. You say, “But what about my kids? I have to support them!”

No you don’t. You don’t have to. Not if you don’t want to.

You could choose to abandon them and get the Scumbag Parent of the Year Award. And they could hate and resent you forever. And your neighbors and family might shun you. And word will get around that you are a dead beat jerk.

But you don’t want to be hated and shunned and resented.

You love your children. They mean the world to you. You support them because their little smiling faces make you happy. And that pleasure is why you choose to support them.

But make no mistake, everything is a choice. Everything. Good, bad, or indifferent.

So what does any of this have to do with today’s fortune? Simply, most people spend their lives, particularly their professional lives, trying to escape from what they hate instead of going after what they love. That’s why we have vacations. To vacate. To escape. To get away long enough (hopefully) to get a reprieve from the doldrums and the misery and the soul-sucking void of cubicle life.

We’re trying to avoid pain. We’re being pushed by our problems.

Better to be led by our dreams. To purposefully increase our pleasure. To pick a goal or a project worthy of our best efforts and really go after it with gusto.

To your good fortune!

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