I'm writing this blog on Labor Day. It's so beautiful outside, and I really want to go for a nice, long walk. Last week was so hot and humid that it deterred me from doing any walking out of doors. So I have promised myself a treat (actually, two treats) if I discipline myself to stay with this blog and finish it. When I finish it, I will get that walk outside that I really want. And when I return from that, I will give myself some time to relax and read a couple chapters in my latest novel. I'll do what needs to be done and then get two things I really desire. (Mind you, I like writing these blogs. It's a pleasurable part of my day. It's just that today, I'd rather be outside.)
Do you ever use a reward system with yourself? In these days of instant gratification, it seems to be a good practice—or at least it works for me. Well, sometimes it works. Other times, not so much—as when I really want that Dove chocolate piece and right now! Much depends on how tired I am, how hungry I am, what type of inner space I'm in.
When my sons were young, at times I used the reward system with them, too. "Just finish your chores first, and you can go to the park for that game of pick-up baseball." "Do your homework, and then you can ride bike with your friends."
Some will say we shouldn't need rewards. We should just do what needs to be done, period. Perhaps so. But I find that if I can anticipate something sweet (a walk, not just chocolate!), it adds to my enjoyment of the whole experience. I can savor not only what I'm doing—but what I know will follow. It just adds more joy to my days. Can that be so bad?
OK, now I'm grabbing my walking shoes and sunglasses. Time for the two things I desire this afternoon.