Dying Daily #178: Rewards

Just a reminder, this is mostly from The Power of Habit by Charles Durhigg. It’s worth a read or listen.

We all have reasons for the things we do.

We may not understand them sometimes, but no one is capable of doing something for no reason. There has to be a motivating factor to prompt action.

I’ve had people make weird noises or stand up and wave their arms when I’ve said this to prove they can do things for no reason. Awesome, except that the motivating factor was to prove me wrong, so they still had a “valid” reason, these actions were not senseless.

Stupid, but not senseless.

When we are looking at our habits, we next need to see how the reward we are getting is meeting a craving of some kind. Cravings are easy to see once we have found them, but hard to find at first.

We are essentially hypothesis testing. You want to try something new and see if it meets the craving. Durhigg recommends writing three words that come it mind when you change the routine to see what is going on internally. This is especially helpful if you are having trouble pinning down exactly why you move into routine.

So, looking at the tendency I had to browse Reddit while writing my blog.

I tried to switch it up whenever the urge to stop writing hit instead of jumping to open my regular subreddits.

I tried doing jumping jacks and mountain climbers, I read for a minute, walked around, just tried to breathe, and opened other sites. I found that opening another site and clicking open a bunch of news stories fulfilled the same craving the best, and that reading something short helped as well.

Essentially, I was craving something new, I needed that little dopamine trigger that we have all become so accustomed to thanks to our phones and alerts and the ever-changing, ever-wonderful internet.

I was even able to pin down that the urge hit every time I started a new paragraph, which fits the mold of our society – every time there is a transition of some sort or lull in anything we grab our phones. We will look at how to be mindful of these urges and what to do with them on Monday.

For today, try to test out different rewards for your routine. If you eat a cookie after dinner, try an apple, go for a walk or give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with Netflix. If you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram, try calling a friend, switching to a different website or going for a walk.

I like walks.

Have a great day.