Why is there pain and pleasure? Wouldn't be enough with one of them? If you expose your skin to fire, the absence of pleasure will not guarantee your instinct of protection. Well, unless your body is filled with pleasure every time it stays away of the flame, but that would be too expensive in terms of body energy. For that same reason we shouldn't expect to find in ubiquitous pain a stimulus for action. But what if action is the stable social state, then it has sense for pain to be associated to the lack of action. As a social invention, action may have different meanings; a modern society may nurture action for change (innovation) while actions for preservation would be nurtured by tradition. The ordering of modern societies may have achieved a "critical mass" allowing some traditional ordering mechanisms to be relaxed (phase transition/dynamic stability/"positive to negative pressure transition and the cohesion of society").
Whenever we make something ubiquitous, no matter if at the beginning is associated with pain or pleasure, on the long run it will become emotionally neutral. That is why designed stimulus for action have to be carefully crafted. If a person is used to a condition that to your eyes is painful, you shouldn't expect that person to respond in the same way as you. That is why to stimulate population which is used to not having regular or productive jobs, even if they live in poor conditions for certain standards, you must first get them used to better conditions. Is not like they will tell you they are living well if you ask them, they may deny it for other reasons. But with exceptions, those latter reasons on the long run are not the ones that determine crucial economic action.
The closer are the living conditions between people, the closer will the criteria of stimuli be. Creating a standard of living conditions and allowing slight fluctuations leads to the ideal regime of behavioral economics where there is a standardized form of behavioral value. This is similar to the role of central banks with regard to the value of national currency: stabilization and estimuli. This analogy not only provides a reference for policy but also for analysis.