It Will Be Different This Time

Intermittent positive reinforcement is a theory of why people do things that seem unreasonable. It’s also a powerful motivator.This concept becomes clear during my yearly trip to the casino. As I cram one more twenty into a slot machine I think, “This could be The Big One!” And when it isn’t, I walk away thinking, “That was stupid! I won’t do that again.” Ten minutes later, when I locate my mother and she’s winning, my mind changes again. Hope is restored! I sit down next to my mother and stick another twenty into a different one armed bandit because obviously the winners are over here!!! My situation is bound to improve now! There’s something about not knowing exactly when your behavior will be rewarded that generates effort. This unpredictable  schedule keeps us going outside the casino too. Very few things in life are all good or all bad. When we experience periodic positive results and don’t know exactly when the payoff will arrive we keep trying. This pattern plays out in relationships, with fitness goals, at work, dog training and with many other matters. Being hopeful is wonderful. I pride myself on being positive. But there are times I need to step back and weigh the pros and the cons. I need to ask myself if my optimistic view is clouding my judgement. No, another 20 in a slot machine probably isn’t going to bring a different result. Just because something worked in the past or for someone else, it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice now.  There are times we need to reevaluate and try something completely new. Are you stuck in a routine hoping for an outcome that is highly unlikely? Take a break. Space can give us clarity. When I get home and think about how ridiculous gambling is I can laugh at it. Until it’s time to go next year…


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Truly thoughtprovoking. Love this line
    There’s something about not knowing exactly when your behavior will be rewarded that generates effort.

    It makes so much sense why we don’t learn the first or 100th time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. plankful says:

      Thanks! Why we do the shit we do is fascinating!!! And why we keep doing the same shit! Lol!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. exactly and I think you answered it saying that somewhere in out heads we know at least some of the time the behaviour we do will “pay off” , so that is obviously the allure. ha ha!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Shaun Carter says:

    Like the article. I barely go to the casino because I’m like yourself. I was stuck in a whole life routine and I’ve changed it all. From eating, exercising, and being with family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. plankful says:

      Thanks for reading!!!


  3. imaskara says:

    Well written and very relatable!!! It’s funny how the mind works sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

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