We like to first do the things that we enjoy. And, we leave behind the things or pay very little attention to things that we don’t like or enjoy doing. That’s the general human tendency. We would rather like to be in the comfort zone than the pain curve.
But do you know what is the secret to being happy in life? It is to “seek what is painful first”. As ironic as it may sound, there is a scientific reason to do so.
Prioritize pain first in your day
Behavioural scientists suggest that one of the best ways to create an enjoyable experience is to do the painful things first. Stacking the painful parts of the experience early in the process not only helps you overcome the pain but also helps you create enjoyable memories towards the end.
Like for example, let us say, you have to clean up your house (which is a painful or annoying experience) and also meet a friend for coffee (which is a delightful experience) on the same day. Now, if you meet your friend for coffee in the morning and then clean up your house in the afternoon, you will remember your day as going from a good experience to a bad experience. But on the contrary, if you clean up your house in the morning and meet your friend for coffee in the evening, you will remember your day as going from a bad experience to a good experience. And, that is what we all want. We want to remember our day as a good day while we go to bed.
How can you apply this mantra to be happier in your life?
Our brain likes it when our experiences improve as time passes. Therefore, it is important to finish the annoying or painful things first and keep the enjoyable experiences towards the end. So, remember the golden rule is – “do not stack the pain”. Start with the task that you dislike the most.
Now this golden rule applies in all walks of life such as finishing your homework, working on a project, doing the laundry, going to the gym, etc. Once you start following this rule you will automatically start feeling more satisfied and happy. It is important to make it a part of your habit.
So, next time when you go to the gym, start with the exercise you hate the most. This way your entire workout experience will improve throughout the workout session and you will start enjoying it.
Reasons to do the painful things first
There are many reasons behind prioritizing painful things first. Let us see some of them:
- Typically, painful things are the most difficult activities or experiences. With the limited amount of willpower that we all have during the day, it is wise to complete the difficult thing first. This way, you will exert less energy for the rest of the day for less difficult activities.
- It is scientifically proven that the moments after we get up in the morning, the creative part of our brain is most active and as the day goes by, the analytical part of our brain takes the charge and becomes more active. So, it makes more sense to finish the difficult task early in the morning when your creative brain is working at its best.
- As the day goes by, you have many distractions in your mind. There might be thoughts lingering in your mind regarding basic things like picking kids from school, cooking meals, paying bills, buying daily essentials, points to discuss in a meeting, etc. With so many distractions, you might not be in the position to accomplish the difficult or painful task. Hence, it makes sense to finish it early as your day starts. When you start early, you can use all your energy and focus to accomplish the difficult or painful task.
- If you wait to finish the hard things towards the end of the day, you might run out of time and the task may remain unfinished.
- Following the golden rule of doing the painful things first also helps you build self-confidence and self-esteem.
The bottom line
Most often than not, even if you hate to do unpleasant tasks, they add value to your life and must be done as soon as possible. If you can successfully complete the painful things first, you will find that you are much more successful and happier. This is because you no more have to stress about these painful things.
Living with such good habits will help you achieve your goals and fulfil your mission in life. For more such articles on habits, follow Living In Wellbeing.