Root of All Human Motivation

From Weekly I/O#22

All human behavior is only driven by the desire to escape discomfort.

Book: Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

Most people in the world believe that human motivation is all about carrots and sticks. It's all about pain and pleasure, like what Freud called "the pleasure principle". However, the author of the book stated that "When we look at the research, neurologically speaking, the root of all human motivation is about the desire to escape discomfort, the avoidance of pain."

Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher, also said that: "By pleasure, we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul." Simply put, the drive to relieve discomfort is the root cause of all our behavior, while everything else is a proximate cause. Even when we think we’re seeking pleasure, we’re actually driven by the desire to free ourselves from the pain of wanting.

I'm actually quite curious about whether this is a widely accepted statement and how robust it is supported by scientific evidence. For me, it will be a little bit tricky to understand how this can explain some human behavior like the desire to have dessert when we are not hungry or even just the desire to get laid. Maybe it can be some sort of fear of missing out. Feel free to send me your thoughts.

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