Positive Rewards and Happiness

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finish line

 

It’s time to reward yourself for your accomplishments. It’s so important to celebrate the small and big wins of your life. This habit makes your life more meaningful and re-enforces the feelings of accomplishment. In this article I talk about why is it so important to pat yourself on the back from time to time, and how it relates to cultivating feelings of joy and fulfillment.

 

“Hard work should be rewarded by good food.” ― Ken Follett

 

Positive rewards as a part of mental conditioning

Remember the Palov’s Dogs? Just before each meal, Pavlov would ring a bell. After a while, all he needed to do was to ring the bell for the dogs to start salivating.

 

In psychology, this is regarded as conditioning, and it works with humans pretty damn well. You can condition yourself for productivity and happy expectations if you know there’s a payoff at the end. And the reward doesn’t have to be elaborate.

 

How about a meeting with your friends or watching an episode of your favorite series, doing some amazing activities with your partner or enjoying seafood accompanied by a fine glass of white wine?

 

How to immediately start conditioning your mind with positive rewards:

 

1. Plan a small reward for the day’s accomplishments

While you craft your to-do list the night before, make a note of the reward that you’ll receive at the end of your workday (and mark it with a different color than the other items on the list).

 

You’ll see how your level of motivation and well-being increases. Now you have something exciting to wait for at the end of each day. It’s not full-grind-and-no-reward anymore.

 

2. Plan expeditions and holidays. Mark them on your calendar

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Shawn Achor, author of Before Happiness proves that having positive expectations for a future reward is one of the keys to happiness.

 

Just think about interesting events that await you in the near future. Holidays, concerts, festivals, adventures, meetings, goals achieved? But please, beware of setting expectations too high.

 

Research shows that when you finally go for the trip and it doesn’t match your ideal vision, you’ll feel disappointed or even depressed (especially when the return to the grindstone looms large in your mind).

 

It’s actually better to take few shorter trips during the year, than a long, two week holidays. In that way you get the expectations benefit each and every time.  When you come back home your level of happiness will come back to normal. So quite often, there’s more benefit in the expectation rather than in the actual experience.

 

positive reward at the end

 

3. Your reward has to be well planned

According to researchers from University of Rotterdam, your only hope is to have a “very relaxing” break. With that kind of holiday your level of happiness may be positively affected for as long as eight weeks. Each one of us has to define what exactly “very relaxing” means. To me, that would include tempestuous romance, solitary walks, massage and a good read.

 

So plan your next holidays and mark them on your calendar. Then look at it frequently and remind yourself of the great adventure  awaiting you. It’s better to plan for shorter trips and spread them throughout the year. Remember about the “very relaxing” bit.

 

4. Celebrate your wins

Holidays constitute just a small portion of your life. It’s not wise cling to a tenuous promise of momentary happiness. If there’s such thing as happiness, you should feel it right now. You’re lucky to be alive so you may as well enjoy it.

 

So often, after a successful project at work, we immediately move to the next objective. How about a little party? Not only will it give you a sense of closure, but it will connect accomplishment with rewards in your mind.

 

“Although all days are equally long regardless of the season, some days are long not only seasonally but by rewards they offer.” – Dejan Stojanovic

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