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The seductive power of pleasure in learning

Pleasure 樂事

Intrinsic motivation is like having a golden ticket taking you places you thought never accessible outside your imagination.

New students love telling me how motivated they are. Repeatedly so. As if the more they repeat the words the more motivated they will magically become. While I never doubt them, the real struggle is being able to harness that initial burst of motivation so it can continue to fuel your project.

So what if you were able to transform your motivation from something extrinsic, your long-term goals, to something intrinsic: an almost addictive compulsion to push forward in your project day by day, whatever the difficulty?

In life as in business, focus is often put on big achievements, big awards, big cars; anything less considered unimportant and little more than candy. In thinking this way, however, we could be missing the biggest trick ever. Why so? Take a look below the surface at how the brain processes achievement and motivation.

It turns out the one thing that makes us feel so good when we achieve something is the same thing behind addiction to hard drugs. Something called dopamine, known to play a major role in reward-motivated behavior. When released into certain areas of the brain, it creates pleasurable feelings, often the result of positive activities such as eating or having sex. Obviously, when we experience that rush of pleasure, most often we want to experience it over again, usually by simply repeating the action we have associated with that pleasure.

So what if we could experience the same "instant" rush of pleasure while learning and what would be the impact on our ongoing motivation to learn?

Why "instant"?

Think about it: If addictive substances took two or three days to take effect, how many would continue taking them?

Through positive and immediate reinforcements in your learning process, you create a context where you directly make learning a source of pleasure. This will make you want to keep learning, if only for that feeling of pleasure, and your motivation will go from being extrinsic, for that big reward, to intrinsic, for that fuzzy buzz you get from within. Read full article here


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