Let's explore how rewards can work for, not against us.

We begin with a classic example: the "runner's high".

After a long run, many feel a sense of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and numbing of pain. It's not only the release of endorphins that elevates mood in a runners high, but also a neurotransmitter called anandamide.

Fun fact, anandamide happens to be part of the endocannabinoid system. Yep the name might give it away, it's the same system that's involved in that other type of high...

So no surprise many runners get "addicted" to their morning runs with such a strong reward and feedback loop, reinforcing the routine.

Overly happy runners aside, how does that help us say getting our mopping done? Studying statistics. You know, stuff that's not exactly as pleasurable?

Well that's where temptation bundling comes in.

Put simply, if we "bundle" a less motivating task with something fun, two things happen.

First - we look forward to that time because it's our chance to experience that fun reward. And second - the "grindy" task becomes associated with good feelings and gets elevated in internal perception.

Examples of temptation bundling: 

  • Only listen to that really funny podcast while clearing the gutters.┬á
  • Watch that addictive Netflix show while on the gym step machine.┬á
  • Snap the beautiful sunrise during your early morning stretching etc.

Research shows it's often even positive to use "bad" rewards with new habits initially, because over time the positive routines will persist and the rewards can be phased out. Eg- celebrating with a croissant after your first gym sessions. Paradox huh? Tasty tasty paradox.

Of course, if you can make it work with a more healthy reward, even better...

Tip - to boost the chance of success, make that grindy task the only time you can enjoy that fun reward. The scarcity will make it even more pleasurable, multiplied by the "I deserve this" victorious feeling.