On 21st July 1969, the American astronaut Neil Armstrong first time in history set his foot on the moon. He said, “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for humankind”. To achieve this goal he underwent many years of hard training in NASA in U.S.A. The entire world came to know about him as the one who first landed on the moon. Human beings are often motivated by a reward. This reward can be internal or external.
Internal rewards are the outcomes experienced in our bodies and minds. The internal rewards can be the following: feeling of lighter in body, calmer in mind, balanced energy through the day, improved sleep quality, better digestion, positive emotions etc., External rewards are the outcomes outside of us, such as money, job, possessions, status and relationships. Usually the parents and teachers encourage their children to work toward these external rewards. It is rare that people encourage their wards to work for internal rewards in this competitive world which is materially oriented.
Here, we are not discussing about the morality of the external or internal rewards. Both are acceptable motivations. But we must have priorities and we must create a culture of healthy combinations of external and internal rewards. It is desirable that internal rewards must be emphasized over the external rewards. The reason for it, is that external rewards are less stable and more dependent on circumstances. Internal rewards tend to be under our control more reliably. In the absence of internal well-being, external rewards have no meaning.
Mr. John was working in a school as a teacher in a place where his family was settled. There was an offer of promotion as Head master of another school which is about 70 K.M. from his residence. He accepted the offer and went over there. He got the external reward of status as a Head master and also monetary benefit. But he had lost his internal reward of calmer mind, improved sleep quality and better digestion. Because he has to get up early morning and commute to and fro every day 140 K.M. Besides he was tensed being responsible for the school as Head master. Now he regrets for having accepted the offer of being the Headmaster of a school. He should have in the beginning itself weighed his options looking at the external and internal rewards of his choice.
Besides one needs to know that some rewards are achieved in short time but others take long time. The long term rewards may not be apparent immediately, but as they continue to accumulate, they may have a greater impact on the quality of life, which one will experience in the course of time. It is vital that one learns to appreciate the rewards that are more helpful which may not be perceptible immediately, as opposed to the rewards that are not so helpful, but which may be accessible right away.
Mr. Jerry may feel content and satisfied by sitting late at night to check his email or involved in social media. There is a reward and gratification in this activity by staying awake and updating his digital world. If he were to go to bed earlier he would have missed out this immediate gratification but he would have experienced a different reward in sleeping better and waking up earlier. This would have given him better feeling and energetic the next day. Hence setting useful goals or rewards for ourselves is a skill, which will accelerate our progress toward greater well being.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur