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Decoding the DNA of Pursuit
Taking advantage of our instinctual tendencies to create meaning and progress.
I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday afternoon. If you’re anything like me, you might be wishing you made more of the right choices this weekend instead of the easy ones. As with many topics of discussion in Prompted, making the right choice is easier said than done. I hope today’s thoughts and prompts will help make the right choice a bit easier for you this week.
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Decoding the DNA of Pursuit
Humans will pursue something no matter what. We can put productive, healthy things in front of ourselves, but if we don’t, we will search for other pursuits and fall into unhealthy pursuits, like gambling, drugs, social media, shopping, etc.
Being human is a never-ending battle that can’t be won.
No matter how much we want to do the right thing, most people and institutions in our lives pull us towards the easy choice.
As a result, when we know we should eat a salad we end up eating a pizza. We snooze our alarm instead of going to the gym. Stay out late with friends instead of making time for personal projects. Yell at someone we care about instead of treating them with empathy.
There is a rift in all of us between our actions and our intentions. And it often feels insurmountable.
Everything is pushing us towards the easy choices. We knowingly participate in self-destructive behavior and even when we do the right thing, it’s never enough because we’re already searching for a new challenge to overcome.
With all of us living our own version of Sisyphus’s eternal duty of pushing a boulder up and down a hill, it’s surprising we all haven’t reverted to nihilism. If we know exactly what we should be doing, but can’t bring ourselves to do it, then what’s the point of even trying? And if we do make the right choice and accomplish something, but immediately desire whatever is next, is it worth the effort in the first place?
It’s easier to give up, make the easy choices, and accept the consequences. And many people do just that.
But the same way birds fly south for the winter and squirrels bury their acorns humans have an innate pattern of behavior we can’t escape.
We are pursuers.
Pursuit is in our DNA, but there are only two types of pursuits: productive and destructive. If we’re not pursuing one we’ll be pursuing the other. When we give up on trying to do the right thing and lean into the easy choices we’re submitting ourselves to destructive pursuits.
We can’t avoid our instinctual tendency for pursuit, but we can direct it towards something productive with the understanding that it will never be easy and we’ll never be satisfied.
Throwing our hands up in the air and giving in to the easy choices in life is not an effortless path to maintaining the status quo, it is the denial of productive pursuits and the acceptance of destructive behavior.
Life will never be as easy or as satisfying as we’d like it to be, but the opportunity and experience we have every day are too valuable to squander with apathy. We owe it to ourselves and to others to keep battling on, pushing forward, and embracing the human nature of pursuit.
Where is the rift between what you should do and what you actually do the biggest?
Do you lean towards being more nihilistic or optimistic?
Where are you the most nihilistic? What would it look like to lean into productive pursuit in that area of life?
A new book from the author of The Comfort Crisis diving into the wiring of our brain, our habits, and the psychology that makes us tick.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.