You deserve it.
That reward for exercising hard today? Go on, take it.
A doughnut. Some chocolate. A packet of chips. Enjoy the sugary sweetness or the salty tang. You deserve it.
That reward for working hard? Go on, take it.
A glass… or bottle of wine. With a side of cheese and dip and crackers and Netflix. Enjoy the buzz. You deserve it.
That reward for finishing that complex task?
A social media binge. Go on, take it. Enjoy the dopamine hit. You deserve it.
Why do I reward myself with actions that will only make me fatter, dumber, less productive and less healthy in the long term?
Wired for reward
Quite simply, our brains love a reward. We love the dopamine hit we get from rewards, especially when something unpredictable happens. We even get a dopamine hit by simply anticipating the reward.
No wonder those three little words are so dangerous.
You deserve it.
It’s the dopamine calling.
This feel-good hormone leads us to make poor decisions, to choose the reward that will do us more harm than good in the long term.
Reward for re-wiring
Thankfully, our brain’s neuroplasticity allows us to create new neural pathways that change our behaviour.
In the past two weeks, I’ve implemented a self-imposed social media ban between work hours. Too often I’d reward myself with a ‘quick’ visit to Facebook. And we all know how that vortex ends, or rather, doesn’t.
Making the decision to stay off social media was harder than actually implementing it. FOMO triggered. I genuinely fretted for what I would miss out on. I felt anxious. But I did it.
I did it for me. Not because someone was telling to me stay off the social channels. Nope. For me, intrinsic motivation is the best.
And my reward?
Two of the most gloriously productive weeks of my life. There’s no going back now. It’s a different kind of pleasure, but I love it even more than a pissy little dopamine hit.
Perhaps those three words aren’t so dangerous after all. Perhaps all the power lies in what reward you think you deserve.