Simple idea! Powerful impact!!!!
"WHY ARE RATS SMARTER THAN PEOPLE?"
One of the '70's training classes asked that and answered it: "Because rats stop going down the same tunnel when there is no cheese there anymore."
Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a simple book making a clear point, while becoming a best seller: Who Moved My Cheese?
But the "reason" is a "believed net payoff" that is faux - and not looked at very carefully...
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN THE CHEESE OF LIFE AND THE FAKES
A payoff is a believed benefit from a particular action. But there are many times that humans believe there are benefits that are real, but they aren't. (Many of the "benefits", even if from a false belief, are strictly from chemicals in our body being activated. Of course, that is an actual "payoff" if one gets a happy chemical, but the trade-offs and side effects could be unhappy chemicals. See The Happy And Unhappy Chemicals, And Our Human Nature And Psychology, as a requisite grounding for one to be able to manage one's life.)
However, in this culture, we'll probably be arguing over what is a real benefit, based on the cultural beliefs that have become what many think are "the truth". Such as "we need people to love us" or "I'll be happy when I find my true love."
Or if you are beautiful you'll be happy. When you have "x" you'll be happy.
The Buddha refers to all this as "unreality" and tells us that we create our suffering by wanting more than reality - when reality is more than enough! (See Accepting Reality.) I think we've got it all backwards!
Furthermore, happiness studies show humans are not able to be good predictors of what will make them happy in the future.
So, our first task is to differentiate (distinguish between) what is a real payoff and what isn't.
FAKE PAYOFFS APPEARING REAL
One of the old admonishments was years ago: "Don't eat the menu!"
That referred to the fact that the pictures of the food were very beautiful, but they weren't the food...and might not be smart to eat.
People will go for the fake payoffs (which in their mind are payoffs) of:
Being a victim, getting rescued, getting approval, blaming others
Love surrogates (attention, approval, forced action, sympathy, rescue)
OPERATING AS A VICTIM HAS A HUGE COST
("But I'm not a victim. Don't insult me!" This is what most people say, yet they do get into seeking approval, hoping someone else will come through for them, and other victim behaviors. "Being a victim" is a temporary condition, which is chosen too often. It is not a permanent condition, as one can choose something else.)
Operating as though you are victim is not wrong, and there are consequences.
Consequences always include both the prices to be paid and payoff to be reaped.
When you put your quarters in the candy machine you fully expect when you pull the handle you will get 'the goodie'. It is the same for your victim machine. You pay the price fully expecting the payoff or goodie of your victimhood. The prices for operating as though you are victim can often be loneliness, poverty, illness, depression, stress, separation, and divorce.
The payoffs people often accept include being right, looking good, sympathy, approval, attention, and blaming others. So we get to blame others and 'be right' (the payoff), but we have to experience loneliness or stress (the price). Or we get attention by our victim act, but we pay with illness or poverty. (It has been shown that patients that fight to get out of the hospital early are known to actually heal faster than patients that somehow create the enjoyment of the attention of hospitalization do.)