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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 198: My Very Own Reward System

In my Psychology studies, every now and then I read about the development of human behaviour being based on a reward system, where a child is taught by its parents to do and think in certain ways by the parents using either positive or negative reinforcement. Some psychologists propose that we develop our own internal reward system, where we will either reward or punish ourselves according to our behaviour.

How many times a day do we tell ourselves who we are and what is expected of us? "I am a responsible person, I must act accordingly.", "I need to prove to everyone that I am clever.", "I have a tendency to lose control when it comes to eating.", "I can't stop myself because I have never been able to stop myself.". We all have our own internal value and belief systems on which we will base our reinforcements, we just don't understand how it all works and how one is able to change how these internal systems are used.

Think about the most obvious reward system: After I finish doing ________ I will eat some ice cream. We have reached a point within our personality development wherein we are unable to do anything without the assurance of some kind of reward. We have attached a value to our actions so that nothing is unconditional because we need to assign a worth to everything so that we can feel worthy and valued.

All of this starts with how we were raised. Our parents bartered with us to eat our veggies or finish our homework, or even to be the best in school so that we can "earn" their love and respect. We feel like we need to "balance the scales" by "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." - now everything we are, everything we do, is done only for some reward as opposed to doing something simply because it needs to be done and that it will be beneficial.

Nowadays, we feel like we are valued if we do something to get a reward, it makes us feel warm and gooey on the inside - the thought that we did something "right". We'll give to a local charity and feel like that somehow absolves us of certain responsibilities or even wrongdoings - as if a right can undo a wrong. Or we'll give to a charity simply to "feel good" about ourselves for a while, like we made a difference - like we did our good deed for the day and now it's all right to think only about ourselves.

In order for us to bring forth a world where all are free and able to enjoy life, we need to stop thinking only in terms of "how will this benefit/reward ME?" and start thinking in terms of "What can I do to make this world better for ALL?". Implementing heaven on Earth will require the unconditional participation of every one of us - we need to be willing to share ourselves freely with our society - to give of our time, labour and experience, and work together as one.

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