Focusing on what creates emotional reward is great. If it works for you, you can do better.
When something brings you emotional reward, here are two things you can do more than just focusing on it to bring more reward into your life:
overindulging in your emotional reward
sharing the reward.
Overindulging in reward means if your manager pats you on the back and you feel good about it, find a way to feel great about it. If you finished a project and you’d normally feel great for a day about it, find a way to feel great about it for a week.
Overindulging in reward achieves two things. First, reward motivates similar behavior. Bluntly, you train yourself to do things you find rewarding. In the long run that means creating an overall lifestyle based on things you like.
Second, since it feels better than average and sometimes you feel worse than average, overindulging lets you parcel out some of the feelings you like to tide you over when you are feeling things you don’t like. If today you overindulge in satisfaction, tomorrow, if you get hit with disappointment, you can bring back some of the satisfaction.
Sharing reward means if you get a role in the play you auditioned for, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell everyone you did. If you find you love scuba diving, tell everyone how much you love it. Sharing doesn’t mean bragging. It’s just sharing what brought about feelings you like.
Sharing in reward does two things too. First, it helps you overindulge. Second, by telling people what brings you reward, you motivate them to share those things with you. If you tell everyone you love scuba diving, people who love scuba diving will be more attracted to you. People who could talk to you about scuba diving or something else will preferentially tell you about scuba diving because they know you like it.
People associate and share with you what you share with them. If you’re the miserable person at work, they’ll share misery with you. If you’re the fun person, they’ll share fun. If you get work done, they’ll share getting things done. No one views you as just one thing, so they’ll average what they see.
If you don’t deliberately share what’s rewarding, they’ll still average what they see, only it will be whatever they happen to see, not what you choose to share. Why not choose deliberately?
The converse is also true. If you love going to parties but you share how miserable you are at work, you won’t be invited to as many parties. You probably will instead attract other people who are miserable at work and hear how miserable they are. If you talk about the fun you had at parties, you’ll be invited to more parties.
Read my weekly newsletter
Subscribe for a weekly update of musings on leadership, the environment, and burpees.