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Pleasure-seeking creatures

I was watching Peter Reinhart deliver a talk at TED about the art of baking bread and was struck by one thing that he said about people wanting to eat healthfully but not liking very much the act of eating healthful foods because it feels more of an obligation rather than the pursuit of one’s passion.

I can relate. Many times in my adult life I would attempt to eat more healthy foods such as wholegrain bread, oatmeal, and many other high fiber, low fat food items accessible to me. I find that I’m able to sustain it for a few months but then revert back to my old not-so-healthy ways after some time. Is this because I have been so used to eating unhealthy foods that I’m unable to sustain it? I don’t think so. Is it because I just don’t care about my health? No. I try to eat just enough and go to the gym thrice a week.

I think the answer lies in Darwin. During his time, he has suggested that the reason we prefer sweet tasting food (e.g. white bread) over one that is not (e.g.wholegrain bread) is because our brains are wired up like that (sweet means sugar and sugar provides the energy that our brain needs to function properly).

This makes me wonder some more about how the rest of our brain is wired up. Are we really designed as pleasure-seeking creatures always weighting in the pros and cons of doing something and doing it only if it gives us seemingly more pros than cons to the best of our knowledge?

I’ve suggested in a previous post that perhaps we are all like this. I have to admit that it would be scary if it were true. But I can’t help but observe this in many places. People tend to gravitate towards someone or something that gives them a good feeling. Granted that different people have different things that make them feel good (some feel good from helping someone, some feel good when they buy new things, still others feel good when they have power) but all the same that would make all of us pleasure seeking creatures.

This makes one think further: could this be the reason why a few volunteer organizations are having a hard time recruiting hiqh quality volunteers? Because they don’t provide enough of an incentive for the kind of talents that they need? Is this why some managers have a hard time getting their organization to act on their mission? Because it feels more of an obligation rather than the pursuit of one’s passion?

I’m just rambling here and I really don’t have any solid answers. But I think it’s worth thinking about when you want to get a group of people to team up and pursue a common goal.

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