How Do You Reward Yourself?

One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to give yourself a reward. What kind of reward works best for you?

Positive reinforcement is a good way to train your body and mind. When you exhibit a behavior you like, giving yourself a reward sends a positive message. In theory, you will come to associate good behavior with getting a reward.

That might sound a bit clinical, but the truth is we use these positive reinforcements every day. If, for instance, you have a cup of coffee each morning, you probably come to think of morning and coffee going together.

Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss a related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss bonus question, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose of life?’

However, finding the right reinforcement to use in any given situation can be tricky. One bad example is to reward an exercise session with a dessert. That might make you look forward to working out so that you can get a sweet treat, but the reward might well be more calories than you burned working out. If the goal is to lose weight, it might well be counter-productive.

What sorts of rewards work best for you? Are their specific ones you use in certain circumstances? Are there “bad” examples you have adopted in the past?

Related questions: What motivates you? How do other people motivate you? Reward or punishment? How do you stick to your resolutions?


1 thought on “How Do You Reward Yourself?”

  1. After most advocacy events or actions I take–especially the collective ones–I ask the participants to join me in a quick evaluation. We each share what we thought went well, what could be improved, and how the event or action advanced our campaign. All three questions provide opportunities to celebrate or recognize we can do better. This evaluation is a reward. It’s an easy one but one most advocates skip.

    On a personal level, my reward usually could be a healthier one. As the question pointed out directly, I reward myself with food. If I lose weight, I desire to celebrate with a treat. So counterproductive.

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