Survival or Pleasure, Which Program Do We Operate In?

by Clay Smeltzer
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As humans we tend to think we are highly sophisticated people, however we actually still run on simple programming.

Do we have great ideas and thoughts?  Absolutely.

Have we accomplished great things in history?  Heck yeah, we even put men on the moon.

We have all of these great accomplishments as humans but if we truly breakdown the programming in our minds that as a species still run, we will find that it runs on two programming patterns.

1. Survival Programming

2. Pleasure Programming

Think about this.

Prior to the year 1900 as humans we actually had to survive each day.  Most of the world lived off the land, had to kill things to eat, grow their own crops, had to protect their land and families, fight off horrible diseases, travel by foot or horses, and worked incredibly hard each day not to die.  I believe about 90{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} to 95{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} of our time was survival with about 5{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} to 10{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} of our time being pleasure related.  To put it very simply, you had to work to live, you had to SURVIVE.

This majority survival programming in our DNA, brain function, and evolutionary patterns has been used for thousands and thousands of years.  Even the most primitive ancestors of the human species used survival to eat and then not be eaten by animals.  These survival patterns did not go away over time, matter of fact they increased in demand based on the evolution of weaponry, war, and the interactions between human societies.

Our brains also have pleasure programming which we all know releases chemicals in our body to make us feel good, happy, and joyful.  As we look at history prior to 1900 we didn’t have a lot of stimulus from pleasure, again only about 5{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} to 10{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} of our time.  Why? Because we were too busy worrying about how to survive and not die.  Now don’t get me wrong there were opportunities for pleasure, but those opportunities were limited because of the environment that we lived in.

Let’s go back to the year 1900 but move forward to this year, 2019.  From 1900 on, we have the industrial revolution, automobiles, radio, television, computers, the technology revolution, grocery stores, convenient stores, microwaves, informational age, the internet and now a days, a cell phone in almost every hand.  So, when we look at these events in history, humans have now created an environment where we don’t have to work hard to survive.

This is now the huge problem.

See, our brains and programming hasn’t changed, we still run in survival mode, yet our environment is no longer a survive or die environment.  The world in which we live in is now a pleasure filled conglomerate of all kinds of stuff that sends out these pleasures filled emotions at us in nanoseconds.  We are constantly and consistently every single day and minute surrounded by something or someone that can provide us pleasure.  We no longer have to really survive.

If I’m hungry, just swing into McDonald’s drive through, or go to the grocery store, or open up my stocked fridge or cabinet.  I didn’t have to go hunt, forest, or grow my own food to survive for the day.  I simply just had to go pick it up.

We live in a world full of instant access to…………everything.

Because of this and our still running survival programming, we also live in a world where women and men, boys and girls, of all ages, races, religions and so on don’t know how to function to truly live the life they were meant and deserve to live.

Anxiety, depression, mental health issues, suicides, all of these things are increasing. WHY?

Because evolutionarily our brains are working in a survival mode 90{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} to 95{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} of the time yet we live in a world and environment that is 90{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} to 95{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} pleasure and we don’t know how to process this, yet.

I have struggled with anxiety for my whole adult life and that is because my brain is in constant survival mode, yet I don’t ever really have to survive.  Anxiety is a survival mechanism that is embedded into our DNA, programming, and our subconscious minds.  So, when there is a threat to our lives our programming kicks in, releases chemicals that heighten ever sense so we can be more aware and react to the threat.  This was great when I was younger and an athlete playing baseball and football because I was in survival mode on the field.  As an adult I am a man, husband, father, teacher, baseball coach, business owner and never really in a position to fight or survive, yet that programming still kicks in.

This led me to have two anxiety spirals in my adult life with many other times anxiety hitting me when it didn’t need to and there was no threat to my life.  This caused me to question myself, who I was, if I was crazy, and I island myself off because of these feelings that were not pleasurable.

I know I am not the only one out there that feels this pull and struggle between my survival program and the pleasure world we live in.  This is one of the reasons I am writing this article and have developed Purpose Infused Coaching to help others navigate through this transition of understanding how we are evolutionarily programmed to survive and how we can balance that out in the pleasure world we live in.

So how can we start to balance out our programming?

(These are some practices that I utilize myself and teach through Purpose Infused Coaching that have worked for me and clients.  Each one of us learn and utilize strategies differently so these can be adapted to your style that would benefit you the most.)

Strategies to help balance our survival programming:

  1. Get educated – Learn about how our brains function by listening, reading, and/or watching work from other people.  Find what you are interested in and go exploring.  Doing this allows us to understand how our brains actually function, how our programming runs most of our decisions, and helps you to own yourself, love your story, and live with purpose.

  2. Paint the Scene – What I mean by this is to have a vision of what you want for your life and where you are at now.  Being able to do this connects with our survival programming to obtain the things in life that are pleasurable internally.  When we set goals or visions and reach them, we are successfully creating that balance of survival and pleasure.

  3. Set Routines – Our subconscious is programmed in patterns or routines.  To function at maximum potential, we also need to have our lives have routines.  I personally have a morning routine and bedtime routine that involves gratitude, prayer, meditation, and placing positive thoughts into my mind.  I suggest this for everyone so that you are setting up your day for success to achieve that vision you have set and then going to bed with positive energy and thoughts of where you are going.  This also is a time that can help to reprogram your conscious and subconscious thoughts to create better balance in our pleasure filled world.

  4. Find your purpose – This is the center and filter at which you can control your life, mental awareness, relationships, job, business, and everything.  When you know your purpose in life you can now control your responses to everything by filtering it through your purpose.  This brings clarity to you, your mind, and the decisions you make.  If it filters through your purpose than it is a yes, if it doesn’t than it is a no.  This also allows you to fill those survival needs because you are acting from your core purpose and existence.

We live in a world that is much different from its past, yet our brains still work primitively through survival and pleasure.  It is difficult at times to navigate through this ever-expanding realm of pleasure; however, we all have the capability to change and adjust our evolutionary programming to bring balance to our internal self and our lives.  Awareness of these patterns allows us to get educated, create a vision and plan, set routines, and find and infuse our purpose into all we do.  In the end our goal really is to own ourselves, love our story, and live with purpose.

So, back to the title question “Survival or pleasure, which program do we run in?”

The answer is both and the problem to solve is to balance both of them in the pleasure filled world we live in.

Clay Smeltzer
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