Fulfilment v Pleasure

Hi Friends,
This week, I want to talk about overcoming inertia, not in its traditional, physical sense, but more so, in a practical sense. As I’ve been focusing on developing habits and systems more than goals, I’ve learned that it’s difficult to overcome inertia initially, yet the difficulty transforms into a reward in the end. Let’s say you’ve decided to hit the gym every day. Naturally, then, there would be days when you wouldn’t want to leave your bed, either because you slept late or because you’re just tired.

Both reasons are justified for you to not get up — the inertia you face is reasonable and natural, and you deserve a well-rested break from the mundanity of workouts. Yet, on those very days, if you’ve ever decided to “apply an external force” and push yourself out of bed, you end up enjoying the mundanity well after the workout. In other words, you're glad you took the decision to hit the gym.

That feeling of fulfilment is what I'm talking about, which is distinct from pleasure, and thus, the topic of this newsletter — fulfilment vs pleasure.

A few months ago, one of my mentors revealed this great difference between "fulfilment and pleasure," and I’ve tried to build on it as well as solidify it with my own experiences.

Here’s the revelation in a few key points.

  1. What is fulfilling in the end is often not pleasurable in the beginning. (Going to the gym is fulfilling in the end but not in the beginning.)
  2. What is pleasurable in the beginning is often not fulfilling in the end. (Sleeping-in is pleasurable in the beginning, but you have a tinge of regret about your decision in the end.)
  3. We seek fulfilment but are attracted by pleasure. (What we really want is long-term fulfilment, but we fall for instant gratification from short-term things.)

The idea, then, is to make fulfilling things pleasurable. When we blur the lines between 'what is fulfilling' and 'what is pleasurable,' we guarantee ourselves long-term happiness, something we intuitively strive for. If getting out of bed and going for a run can become a pleasurable activity, you inevitably reach a different kind of fulfilment.

Have a great week!

Video of the Week

In this week's video, I present how I survey (or explore) new content, using neural networks as an example.

Podcasts of The Week

  • In this week’s podcast, Ali and I talk about merging seemingly opposite ideas to coin new “life concepts.” A few examples: "Introverted extroverts," "Childlike Adulthood," "Weirdly Normal," "Connected Disconnectedness," "Busy doing Nothing." Dive in for more.
  • In this podcast, Taimur and Ali discuss this timeless book that talks about some radical, un-nuanced ideas about life, love and emotions. An interesting contrarian perspective that fits well in today's context.

Articles of The Week

I really enjoyed learning about why we procrastinate from this article by Cal Newport, Professor at Georgetown University!

The 7 Life-Changing Questions
I also loved thinking about life from the prism of these 7 questions (see this) put forward by Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art.