Let's take studying as an example. What are the intrinsic
Learning new information is interesting; it satisfies our
curiosity; it feels good to understand.
Much of what we learn about nature or our bodies and our
minds is beautiful and awesome. The mystery and complexity
of the origin and development and purpose of everything in the
universe is mind-boggling--a challenge to the greatest minds.
Pulling old and new information together so that it "makes
more sense" is satisfying. Like solving a puzzle.
When we acquire enough information that we feel competent
and knowledgeable relative to others, we feel a sense of
Using the knowledge by doing something, such as writing or
talking to others... and thinking about doing so...is gratifying. It
can be creative.
Planning our own learning experiences and exercising the self-
discipline and responsibility involved can produce pride.
Learning to solve problems and help others is deeply satisfying.
A similar list could be made for any positive activity or situation.
STEP TWO: Repeatedly affirm the value and pleasure obtained
from the ongoing activity.
While undertaking the activity, focus your attention periodically
(briefly every 10 or 15 minutes) on the possible intrinsic satisfactions.
Marvel at and appreciate the beauty involved. Take pride in your
activity. When finished with each work period, take a minute or two to
appreciate your work and to think about how the information can be
used and enjoyed in the future.
STEP THREE: Provide as many rewards and pleasant
circumstances as possible. If the activity is already positive,
carefully avoid overemphasizing the external rewards and/or
making them unduly controlling, pressuring, or negative.
Positive, desired extrinsic rewards, such as money, will usually
increase the pleasure one gets out of the rewarded low or high-
interest activity. However, if one believes he/she is doing something
for an extrinsic reward, this may reduce the awareness of potential
intrinsic satisfactions (Deci, 1975). Example: a student who is highly
motivated to go to law school and dreams of the status and material
rewards he/she will achieve as a lawyer may overlook the pleasure of
learning about government, rules of evidence, and tax laws. Not only
will this result in less enjoyment during pre-law and law school, but it
could also lower the probability of keeping up with the professional
reading a good lawyer should continue to do.
Keep the extrinsic and intrinsic satisfactions in perspective--in
balance. You need to be aware of both and the interplay between