By Gordon Shippey
What drives behavior is perhaps the fundamental question of psychology and therapy. While the list of theoretical models seems endless, I’m beginning to find that almost all motivation can be divided into two very distinct, very different categories. Most importantly of all, one of these two kinds of motivations predicts long-term contentment and the other does not.
“If it feels good, do it.” “Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first.” Sayings like these all reflect a pleasure-seeking motivation. Pleasure-seeking, or “hedonic pursuit,” encapsulates a huge swath of motivations. Merely by being alive, we are constantly bombarded by urges and longings: for food, sex, safety, comfort, and excitement, just to name a few. And there is nothing wrong with getting any and all of these needs met. The thing that makes hedonic pursuit hedonic is the focus on immediate wants and needs over any other concerns or even to the total exclusion of other concerns.