Extrinsic reward dependence is unsustainable

Developing meaningful behaviors based on external rewards alone, as opposed to a self-regulating reward mechanism, is not sustainable. Take away the external reward, be it gold stars or social appraisal, and the behavior unsurpisingly stops being rewarding, even more so due to the sharp decline in perceived reward. Learning to modulate the internal reward system (e.g. through breathwork or optic flow) is counterintuitively effective in this regard. What’s more, obscenely satisfying artificial rewards destabilize the reward system, making satisfying cravings unsustainable.

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