Discernment_ Pleasure Vs. Reward

Discernment: Pleasure Vs. Reward

As human after human declares themselves in trouble with their media addiction and we are collectively feeling our awake and aliveness threatened, I have a few thoughts to share.

Being addicted to technology, from a brain standpoint, means we are neurobiologically wired to “reward”. 

Because the brain so enjoys quick and easy access to reward experiences via technology, we can quickly become wired to seeking reward over pleasure. Giving your system a reward is like checking a checkbox on your to-do list; satisfying but one dimensional, necessary but not essential. The brain recognizes rewards indiscriminately and values a small reward or a large one equally, so over time rewards can confuse our systems as to what is actually important (you know how important checking FB or email can seem sometimes right?!).

On the other hand, pleasure is a highly valuable and important human experience which by-nature is multi-sensory and deeply nourishing to our entire system. Truly multi-sensory and pleasurable experiences typically take time and some amount of exchange of energy. Where pleasure experiences strengthen our nervous system and leave us full, reward experiences frequently leave us anxious and hungry. Thus the addiction cycle kicks in and we find ourselves, against our better judgement, doing less meaningful things over more meaningful things as it is easier to seek and find reward than pleasure and suddenly life is shallow.
Accepting reward—like the entertainment of an interesting FB post or a text—over the multi-sensory experience of walking outside and feeling raindrops and wind on your face tricks us out of Life. And here we are.

Not so long ago we had so much more free time, watch the clouds roll by time, read a book time, meandering walk time, long bath time.

This time helped our systems access, and value, the effort experiencing pleasure requires…but now pleasure is losing ground as the fast and easy reward system has been so deeply wired into our personal and collective nervous system.

You probably learned in a psych 101 class that rats will choose an electric shock over food, simply because of the compulsion to what is familiar–even if the familiar is uncomfortable. Can we individually and collectively begin to recognize our media addiction as an electric shock even though our systems are identifying it as food?

I repeat, yes.

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