The Pleasure and Fear Theory

do you
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

Many times I’ve wondered what are our true reasons we behave as we do. Is it our purpose in life? What a purpose in life really represents? Is it going for something or is it running from something? Based on what we decide how should we act in every moment?

I’m proposing a theory based on two feelings: pleasure and fear. I think that most of the time we act so the outcome brings us some sort of good feelings or because the outcome can spare us some bad feelings. For example, why do Christians act as they do? Most of the time, it’s because they fear God’s punishment, and that punishment can bring them lots of pain. Or maybe they don’t act because of the fear, but they act for their soul to go heaven where everything is perfect and they’ll feel perfect, so those actions can bring them closer to happiness.

It may sound like a selfish approach, but isn’t that right? When we help a homeless person, we do it for that person to feel good or maybe we do it because helping someone makes us feel good? Why do we go to work each morning? For money, I know, but how do we feel when we get those money? What do we need them for? To buy food, pay the bills and take care of our families, but do we really need that car? Do we really need that apartment or house? Do we really need that new phone? Aren’t those just things that make us feel good? Isn’t taking care of our family making us feel good? Isn’t love just a way to prove ourselves that we do matter for someone else and that makes us feel good? Isn’t it a way to counter our fear of being alone?

I might be wrong, but I think that we act based on our survival instincts, pleasure feelings and fear. We are the most evolved beings on this Earth, but we still act in a selfish way.

Can you give a selfless example?

11 thoughts on “The Pleasure and Fear Theory

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  1. Speaking as a Christian. I don’t “act” out of fear or put on a show to get to heaven. By works alone I will not enter into the Kingdom of God, but by believing in the perfect sacrifice of God in flesh (Jesus Christ) who took the punishment for sin that I deserve.

    I don’t “fear” God as in afraid, but have a healthy respect to our creator. God is not, as the Puritans portrayed, an angry diety ready to strike us down at a moment’s notice. Since the fall at Eden; man is naturally flawed and will make mistakes.

    As for emotions, emotions can lie to you. Something can feel right, but be a wrong choice. When we make emotion driven choices; we make rash decisions. I’ve made plenty and they ended in disaster. Leave out the emotion, and what remains will help you see the truth. Example: I don’t always feel like writing a devotional blog, but if I feel led by the Holy Spirit (like now) I write anyway because my goal as a blogger, personally, is to spread the word of God and Jesus. Feeling like it is irrelevant. If I didn’t feel like breathing and tried not to; I’d either pass out of suffocate.

    That’s what I believe and I believe to be truth, but that does not mean I’m gonna beat it over anyone’s head if they don’t agree with me.

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  2. WOW. Thought provoking. I think a selfless act is putting your life at risk to defend someone else’s because you see them getting attacked and out of fear of them dying (stranger or someone you know) or testifying in court as a witness to put a dangerous, powerful criminal in prison that has reach to their associates outside of prison to murder any of the witnesses

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  3. This is a beautiful theory! Well as we get going, we become more selfish. A selfless act is more like a myth! You could watch a documentary called the Minimalist on Netflix. It talks about the points you mentioned. Do we really need that car, the house, and lots of clothes?
    Great read!

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  4. I think ultimately there is no selfless act in and of itself. Everything people do in one way or another rewards them even when it could hurt them. Altruism doesn’t exist. And never will. Even putting your life in danger to protect someone else is not a selfless act. How would u feel had u not ? What image of yourself would u have ? How were u brought up as a child and what core values were instilled in you that influence the way you act and would love to live/die by? As for materialistic things they are nothing but another tool designed by humans to distract humans and give them a false sense of achievement / safety and purpose. Everything is a man made concept and given value that doesn’t exist . Whether in Materials. Families. Money. Success. And so on. There are no absolutes.

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  5. When I help others, it’s more out of pity, somehow sensing their difficulty. I largely agree with you. I think a lot of what we do is instinctual. Our higher thinking often takes an observation mode, driving emotions rather than reasoning without balance.

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  6. It depends on a lot of factors – I give blood when I can because it makes a difference. Even if that blood isn’t used to save a life, it can be used to train others in how to used blood products. I look at it as payback for the training I received. Is that altruistic – uhh, no. It’s paying a debt back, but not out of fear. For me, I suppose the biggest issue is “Does this help balance the world?”

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