The law of human motivation is very simple: it simply states that we will always strive towards instant pleasure and away from instant pain. And a simple corollary of this third fundamental law is that our perceptions of what exactly qualifies as instant pain and instant pleasure will completely govern our behavior.
Think about this for a while. This third fundamental law is the entire reason for the very existence of our debilitating Western culture of consumerism and entitlement. Consumption, in all of its various forms, is nothing other than a way in which to gain perceived instant pleasure. This flawed perception gets reinforced 5000 times per day by the advertising industry and ultimately results in hundreds of millions of people mortgaging their futures to the hilt in the impossible quest to satisfy their instinctive drive towards ever greater amounts of instant pleasure. Conversely, entitlement, in all its forms, is nothing other than a means to avoid perceived instant pain. If we can fully convince ourselves that this magical entity called government will forever take care of us, we can perceive ourselves to be immune to major sources of instant pain such as a job loss or an insufficiently large nest-egg for retirement. This belief allows us to avoid the perceived instant pain associated with really contributing in excess of our paychecks and saving a substantial chunk of our income for retirement.
Indeed, the debilitating culture of consumerism and entitlement responsible for the steady decline of Western civilization is nothing other than a realization of the fundamental law of human motivation. Of course, if you just stop to think for a little while, you’ll quickly realize that rampant consumerism brings a lot more pain than pleasure in the form of obesity, financial troubles, stress and a general lack of meaning and purpose in life. You will also realize that total welfare states bring much more pain than they prevent by disincentivizing personal development, causing soul-killing dependence and bringing massive unexpected financial troubles on the day that government can no longer fulfill all of its careless promises.
But this is unfortunately not how our minds work. Although the argumentation in the previous paragraph is definitely logically correct, the points mentioned are much less instant and much less concrete than the brief pleasurable feelings brought by buying your 50th pair of shoes or the perceived pain avoided by not having to forego any consumption in order to save for retirement. It is therefore very clear that, if we are to save our civilization, we will have to evolve our perceptions of instant pain and instant pleasure beyond the woefully primitive level that brought us to where we are today. The next page will take a look at how that can be done.