Remember when teachers handed out gold stars for rewards? If you did well in class, if you wrote a neat paper, or for any of a multitude of reasons, you could get one next to your name or else on your homework. It was a wonderful experience to get a gold star. For me, it happened seldom. I was young for my age in the class and so my skills were not as well developed as those of my classmates. However, that was long ago and I don’t feel I suffered for it.
Perhaps in today’s politically correct climate teachers might not use gold stars as a reward. Not being in school or in the know, I have no idea. All I do know is that rewards are as important to me now as they were to me as a child. When I have worked hard, done a good job by my own standards, or fulfilled an obligation, I like to find a way to reward myself. It makes me feel good and it also encourages me to continue to make an effort.
At times a reward can function as a kind of bribe or inducement if you will. Not that I feel I must have a reward to do what I have to do–most especially if I don’t feel like doing it just then. However sometimes it’s nice to look forward to one at the end of a difficult task or experience. Most often a reward can be a reminder to me that I love myself and honor my efforts.
In the rather strict atmosphere in which I grew up, there were no rewards for good behavior. I was expected to behave. What usually happened was that I was punished if I didn’t behave the way my parents wanted me to or thought I ought to. Things were different then and those were other days and times. Today’s parents have learned from Dr. Spock and other sources to raise their children in more kindly ways.
Over the years I have learned to treat myself as if I were my own kind parent. It took me a while to understand the importance of that, and once I did it made a great difference. For instance I pat myself on the back when I have done a good job, or praise myself for whatever effort I might have put out even if I wasn’t successful in my attempt. Sometimes I reward myself by going for a walk or reading a book, at other times I might buy a small treat I’ve been wanting. I try not to make food a reward because I don’t need the extra calories.
My favorite reward is to give myself time to do what I enjoy, whether that is reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or writing or working on a poem. To me this is neither selfish nor is it self indulgent. Instead, It seems to me it is an important way to show myself love. It is my understanding that the more I love myself the more love I can feel from those around me. Rewarding myself is an easy way of showing myself love. It feels good, and also it helps me to be a happier, more giving person.