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More Pleasure, Less Pain

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. – Oprah Winfrey

We all want more pleasure and less pain. It’s human nature. What allows some people to seemingly dance through life and get more of what they want (and less of what they don’t) has a lot to do with their comfort zone, and their willingness to get outside of it. Some people are willing to do things that others feel they can’t, shouldn’t or won’t do to get what they want. Here’s the thing: we keep on getting the same result until we are willing to do something different. And of course, doing something different is more than likely outside of your comfort zone. If it wasn’t, you’d be doing it already.

The bottom line is: possibilities lie outside of our comfort zone. For many people it is uncomfortable to speak truth to power, for example. We are afraid that we will suffer negative consequences if we do so, perhaps even with an impact on our paycheck. Others of us find it hard to say “no”. Oprah called it “the disease to please”. Still others are afraid to accept help or support, saying “yes and thank you”, without feeling weak or as if they now owe the other person something in return.

Many people continue to play it small in order not to rock the boat and to stay in their comfort zone. It makes sense. It’s how we survived back when we had to reckon with saber-toothed tigers. But we are now living in the 21st century and if you want something different (a promotion, a deep relationship, a new svelte figure, more money, more free time, more pleasure and less pain) you’ve got to do something different.

This is a no brainer, right? So why do we keep on being insane and expecting a different result by doing the same thing? We’re human. That’s why!

The good news is, even though we’re human and we’re creatures of habit, we can change. Sometimes we can change in leaps and bounds, especially when life pushes us and we feel our back’s up against the wall. Most times, though, it is plausible and even preferable to practice something new, taking baby steps. I am an advocate of both approaches. The key here is do show up and do something differently and not wait for emotions to push you there. This means if you are feeling afraid, you do it anyway.

That’s what stepping outside your comfort zone is; doing the things that you think are scary, or silly, or indulgent, or questionable, or unpopular, or unattractive or just plain difficult. If you didn’t judge it as any of these things, you would be doing them already. If you didn’t care what others think, you would be well on your way to where you want to go.


There are no facts, only interpretations. Friedrich Nietzsche

In reality, all of the barriers to you getting in action are interpretations. They are not facts. Whatever label you have put on the thing that (until now) you could not do is a judgement – but it is not a fact. It is not a tangible thing that you can measure. It is all open to your own very subjective viewpoint. And as we know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It is all in the eye of the beholder and it is all relative. In other words, “silly”, “indulgent”, “weird”, “selfish”, “weak”, “strong”, “terrifying”, “ugly”, “tacky”, “rude”, “unacceptable”, are all open to interpretation. And if that’s the case, you get to decide.

The judgements above are all disempowering. But as the leader of your life, you get to choose what you think and what you do with your thoughts. In fact, any psychologist will tell you that thoughts are powerful little suckers. What you think impacts what you do and how you feel. Instead of choosing a disempowering thought, you have the free will to choose an empowering one. That’s why affirmations are so powerful.

So how about choosing a more empowering thought? How about deciding to feel silly or indulgent or weak or strong or scared and doing it anyway? How about changing how you think about something and calling it “new” or “growth” rather than all of those disempowering judgements. You want more pleasure and less pain? It comes from practicing the thing you cannot do. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Jessica Lightbourne is an executive coach and the Chairman of the Bermuda Coaching Network. For more information on what coaching can do for you, contact Jessica at or at (441) 734 7344.

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