Default Modes: On Maximizing Pleasure Vs. Minimizing Pain

Last summer around this time, I was house shopping…

And one of my favorite houses had these massive, floor-to-ceiling windows.

I loved this: the windows allowed for natural light to flood in throughout the house…

And from the moment I walked through the front door and into the sunlit living room…

I felt this utter sense of warmth and calm.

When I sent pictures of the house to my mom, though…

The first thing she noticed was the windows…

And how they would be expensive to get cleaned.

“Oh I don’t know Stefan,” she said. “Those huge windows 

will cause a fortune to clean. And you’ll have to clean them at least once a year, if not every 6 months. I’d think about that before making an offer.”

At the time, I just chalked this up to my mom being negative and a worrier…

But I thought about her response again today….

And it brought me to an interesting realization:

Most people in this world are operating in just 1 out of 2 modes:

The first mode is one where we seek to maximize pleasure…

And the second mode is one where we seek to minimize pain.

We can toggle between these modes for sure…

But we all have a “default mode”…

The one that is dominant in our lives.

I personally put maximizing pleasure above minimizing pain…

And I think that’s why I work so hard and pursue financial success…

Because in my head, having vast sums of “fuck you money” means I can maximize my pleasure all of the time.

[Might be true, might not be true, but just being real with you about how I operate].

As a result of this…

I’m a great customer if you’re selling high-end luxury sports cars…

Or a big comfortable leather recliner…

Or a fractional share of a private jet…

And I’m a terrible prospective customer if you’re selling a course on saving for retirement…

Or you want me to go to the doctor for preventative checkups…

Or if you want to pitch me on how I should workout now to avoid health problems later in life.

Those things are about minimizing pain and protecting against the downside…

But I’m all about maximizing pleasure and creating more upside.

And again, I’m not saying that my mode of operating is “right” or superior…

It’s not a value judgement…

It’s just the way I am.

So, Back To That House With The Huge Windows…

As I was thinking about my mom’s response to the pictures I sent her…

I realized that my mom’s response and my response illustrate the difference in “default” modes pretty clearly…

I see floor-to-ceiling windows in a beautiful house and I want to buy the house, because the natural light would maximize my pleasure…

My mom sees floor-to-ceiling windows in the same house, and she would never buy that house because it might lead to future pain point (paying a fortune to clean the windows).

To me, it’s incomprehensible that my mom would let the worry of some pain-point…

Which is at least a year or more away…

Guide her decision making process today…

But that’s how she operates.

And it’s interesting that two people from pretty similar backgrounds (I share half of her DNA and I grew up living in her house)…

Can look at the same feature in the same house…

Yet for one of us, this feature makes us think, “Oh, I’d spend millions of dollars to live in this house”…

While for the other, it makes us think, “I would never want to live in this house.”

And my point here…

Is that right now, as you’re writing your sales copy…

Who are you speaking to?

Are you speaking to me?

Or are you speaking to my mom?

Or are you trying to speak to both of us?

Do most of your ideal prospects want to maximize pleasure…

Or do they want to minimize their pain?

It’s important you figure that out before you write each piece of sales copy…

Because while sure, there can be some overlap…

The odds are high that more of your prospective customers fall into one category than the other…

And, if you’re not speaking to their “default mode”…

Then your copy is never going to convert as well as it could.

-SPG

P.S. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *