The Pain vs. Pleasure Principle

I learned this principle in Anthony Robbin’s book, Awaken the Giant Within. It’s a game changer!

The pain vs. pleasure principle: Whatever you link pain and pleasure to will shape your life. In order for change to last, we must link pain to our old behavior and pleasure to our new behavior.

Example: Getting into the best shape of your life. This is a lot easier than most people think. You need to do two things: 1.) Workout 2.) Eat clean 80% of the time. 


Most people want to workout, eat right, and be in great shape, but they link too much pain to the process to ever create lasting change. They think, “Working out is horrible, I hate doing it. I hate tracking my calories. I like to enjoy my desserts… etc.”

In order for someone to create lasting change with their health and fitness goals, they have to find a way to link pleasure to working and eating right and pain to not working out and not eating right.

I did this is my life. I never ate clean and I would rarely work out, even though I desperately wanted to be in great shape. Overtime, I started linking pleasure to working out and eating clean and pain to not working out or eating clean and I got the results I wanted. Not only did I get the results I wanted in the short-term, but I developed a system that has enabled me to sustain the results over the long-term.

So, how do you create lasting change in your life? Go through this process:

Action Steps:

1.) Determine a goal that you have set, but have not been able to reach.

2.) Determine what is painful for you about taking steps to achieve that goal.

3.) Find a way to reward yourself when you take a step toward your goal. 

4.) Reward yourself every time you take a step toward your goal.

5.) Create pain when you don’t take a step that you should have taken (as you develop a pleasure for what used to cause you pain, this step will become more and more natural)

6.) Repeat the process until you love the pleasure associated with action and you hate the pain that you feel when you do not take action. 


  • What changes do you want to make in your life?
  • Based on the pain and pleasure principle, can you see why you have not been able to create lasting change?
  • What can you do now to link pleasure to the right action steps and pain to not taking action?

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