Fun activities alone--small: smell a rose, daydream, watch people, read a
short article, play with pet, plan a party, etc. Medium: watching TV,
reading, exercising, taking a shower, taking a walk, working in garden,
writing a letter, etc. Large: do something creative or artistic, go hiking,
start a hobby, go shopping, fix up a car, learn to fly, etc.
Social activities--small: talk on the phone, tell a joke, go out for a snack,
offer to help someone, invite someone over, etc. Medium: go to a movie
or theater or ball game, go to or give a party, play sports, etc. Large: go
on a vacation, join a club, go to a concert or a dance, start doing
volunteer work, invite a foreign student to live with you, etc.
Appreciation and rewards from others--small: getting a compliment or
show of appreciation from others, someone fixes you a dessert, receiving
a thank you note or a call saying, "You were so nice," etc. Medium:
getting a letter of commendation, someone offering to do all the cooking
while you are on a diet, hearing that someone has said really nice things
about you, etc. Large: someone saying "I love you" or "I admire you" or
"You are fantastic," someone offering help in getting a job, your relatives
offering help when you need it, etc. The difficulty here is being able to
control these powerful, valuable payoffs. That is, you aren't in control of
when these rewards will be offered. Perhaps friends will cooperate.
Self-appreciation and praise--small: saying to yourself, "You did that
well!" or "You deserve a break." Medium: telling your family about some
success, being quietly proud. Large: the thrill of success, like the football
player's "dance" after scoring a touchdown or the college student
screaming down the dorm hall, "I got into Law School!" The self-
satisfaction can involve an accomplishment, an enjoyment of your own
body after losing weight, a respect for your own abilities and a good
feeling when you live up to your highest values. It can be the opposite of
material gain as when a priest or nun takes a vow of poverty but feels
spiritually rich or when one feels super good after helping and giving to a
neighbor whose house has burnt.
Frequently occurring behaviors--Premack observed that such behaviors
act the same as reinforcers. Thus, one can use puffing on a cigarette,
drinking coffee or water, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, looking
at your watch, calling a friend, going to the bathroom or any habit as a
reinforcer. Sounds weird but it works.
Hopefully, these examples will stimulate lots of ideas about how to
reinforce many desired behaviors.
STEP THREE: Plan how to immediately reinforce the desired
behavior; write a contract.
The simplest way to use rewards is to make a deal with yourself:
as soon as you do ________, then you get a reward of________.
Suppose you have two things to do in an afternoon--clean up the
kitchen and play tennis with a friend. Many people would play tennis
first and do the dishes later. A better way would be to do the dishes
and reward that with tennis.
There are numerous opportunities to make a contract with
ourselves. Indeed, our lives are filled with rewards, so an alert self-