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Sunday, February 19, 2023


I recently read The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health & Happiness by Douglas Lisle and Alan Goldhamer (2006). 

 In this book, DL&AG provide a clear framework that describes why we humans behave the way we do. They also articulate how our evolution has in many ways created within us ways of behaving that run contrary to the ways that nature intended. Their focus is centered on how these behaviors impact our health and wellbeing.


My top takeaways:

·      THE MOTIVATIONAL TRIAD: (1) seek pleasure, (2) avoid pain, and (3) conserve energy. It’s baked into ALL of us.

·      Moods of happiness and unhappiness signal to us how we’re doing in that triadic endeavor.

·      Happiness is not a place you can find and then stay in forever; it’s the result of temporary and repeatable process.

·      Happiness and unhappiness are merely the feedback systems that signal our triadic success.

·      Modern lifestyles (leisure, comfort, food, drugs, safety) deceive and hijack the motivational triad within each of us. This is The Pleasure Trap.

·      PAIN is a miracle of design, which naturally pushes us to take corrective actions.

·      Modern medicine, particularly in response to chronic illness, shortcuts and tricks the natural systems of self-healing that are engrained in our DNA.  

·      The evolution of human language and agricultural prowess have been both blessing and curse to our existence. 

·      Health by “subtraction” (of harmful inputs and activities) is a better approach than “addition” (of harmful drugs, foods, and treatments).

·      Our bodies have a marvelous ability to self-heal, if we just allow the conditions for that to occur.

·      3 MECHANISMS OF SATIATION – hunger mitigation – are (1) stretch sensation, (2) nutrient sensation, and (3) the “yowel” circuits (the body’s ability to sense available fat storage availability for survival). “A pleasure trap exists when a component of the motivational triad is deceived.” (p. 91).

·      5  KEYS TO HEALTH: 1) Keep no junk food in the house, 2) Craft a weekly, healthy menu and pre-prepare it, 3) Prepare healthy food in quantity, 4) Create a “car pack” of healthy food, and 5) Get help if we’ve lost control of our nutritional habits. 

·      Humans now live in an artificial world of our own making.

·      Humans are designed to sleep to satiation, yet our lifestyles “trick” us into longer-than-healthy periods of awakeness. “Like oxygen, food, and warmth, our need for sleep is carefully calibrated into our instinctive machinery.” (p. 149)

·      Two Myths of Moderation: The first is the myth of moderate consumption: the notion that any lifestyle habit is healthy and acceptable provided it is practiced in moderation. The second is the myth of moderate change: the idea that the goal of healthy lasting change is best approached by beginning with only modest changes, slowly building toward greater success.” (p. 164)


My favorite quotes: 

“You are the prize your ancestors worked so hard to achieve, and you carry inside of you the genes—and therefore the traits—that made them successful. These traits are what the late astronomer Carl Sagan described as “shadows of forgotten ancestors.” (p. 8).

“If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.” —Harriet Tubman (p. 17).

“What needs to be understood is that health is the natural, spontaneous consequence of healthful living. It is rarely the consequence of expensive or complicated medical care.” (p. 38)

“Our modern diet is artificially concentrated, and this artificial concentration causes our calorie-counting machinery to make errors.” (p. 74).

“Life on earth is interrelated within what we refer to as “the ecology.” This set of complex relationships is never in static balance; it is dynamic, always changing. Though we often refer to “the balance of nature,” such a term is somewhat misleading because nature is never in perfect balance.” (p. 127).

“It was Darwin who first understood that living things fit together in interdependent ecological niches. It follows, then, that life on earth is like a woven fabric of uncertain elasticity, and that we should be greatly concerned as we stretch that fabric to its limits.” (p. 140).

“If you want to know what health is worth, ask the person who has lost it.” —John Robbins (p. 153)

“We have repeatedly observed that the human body has marvelous healing capacities that require the optimal environment to be fully expressed!” (p. 188). “The exclusive intake of pure water in an environment of complete rest is that optimal environment.” (p. 188).

My lovely bride of 45 years told me I needed to read this book. She was on the mark…………again. A very worthy work.

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