You can get reward from every part of your life. You may not realize you can if you call emotions positive or negative because if you think some emotions are bad, you’ll try to avoid them instead of learning from them and using them to improve your life.
By considering emotions’ characteristics instead of calling them good or bad, the Model gives you a greater wealth of types of reward than just pleasure. Instead of calling them good, bad, positive, or negative you can use them without judging them, which lets you use any emotional cycle to improve your life.
Emotions may have many characteristics, but I usually treat four:
- Pleasure versus pain
- Subtlety versus intensity
- Richness/complexity versus simplicity
- Long-term versus short-term
You can get reward of any and all type of characteristic of emotion, not just from positive emotions. That’s one of the most important outcomes of the Model — that you can get reward from any emotional cycle. Not understanding that point relegates you to merely accepting or trying to get rid of emotions that you could use to improve your life.
If emotions could be only one or the other of the endpoints of these characteristics, there would be sixteen combinations. Emotions can lie anywhere in between, so they can have infinite variation. But let’s list the sixteen combinations and an example or two of reward that could come from each.
I intend for the list to show you how much you can fill your life with reward. I don’t intend to make it comprehensive, just to illustrate. Each sub-group of reward gives you a unique overall feeling, each independent of the rest. A great life has reward of all different sub-groups.
Try for yourself to think of other sources of pleasure for each sub-group, preferably that resonate for you in your life.
|Pleasurable, Intense, Rich/Complex, Long-Term||Family, community, long-term personal development|
|Pleasurable, Intense, Rich/Complex, Short-Term||Cooking a great meal, riding a roller-coaster|
|Pleasurable, Intense, Simple, Long-Term||Stopping and smelling the roses, eating well, getting regular massages (regular passive pleasure)|
|Pleasurable, Intense, Simple, Short-Term||Eating candy, getting a massage, celebrating completing a small project|
|Pleasurable, Subtle, Rich/Complex, Long-Term||Enjoying your identity, like dressing stylishly, enjoying the benefits of personal development or education|
|Pleasurable, Subtle, Rich/Complex, Short-Term||Feeling spent after working out — sore and relaxed|
|Pleasurable, Subtle, Simple, Long-Term||Having a nice place to live or nice furniture|
|Pleasurable, Subtle, Simple, Short-Term||The pleasure of a job well done|
|Painful, Intense, Rich/Complex, Long-Term||Big learning experiences that contributed to your identity, like flubbing your lines on stage on way to becoming an actor|
|Painful, Intense, Rich/Complex, Short-Term||Bruises from a well-played competition, not being able to walk the day after a marathon|
|Painful, Intense, Simple, Long-Term||Burned hand on stove as a child and learned to respect fire|
|Painful, Intense, Simple, Short-Term||Got laughed at for asking dumb question in class but learned something|
|Painful, Subtle, Rich/Complex, Long-Term||My lesson from being benched playing ultimate|
|Painful, Subtle, Rich/Complex, Short-Term||Blister from awesome pair of new shoes not yet broken in|
|Painful, Subtle, Simple, Long-Term||Learned you didn’t like that food and now avoid it|
|Painful, Subtle, Simple, Short-Term||Put a little too much spicy sauce on dinner but nothing else to eat so ate it anyway|
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