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8. Mental Fitness > 74. Snap Yourself to Attention

Snap Yourself to Attention

Change your behavior by rewarding your hard work and punishing your slacking off.

As a self-aware animal, you can motivate yourself with the techniques of animal training. You can increase the number of your accomplishments by defining measurable units of achievement, breaking down your project into those units, and then giving yourself either a fixed reward per accomplishment or a fixed negative punishment for each lapse—or both, if you prefer.

First, a word about definitions. Behaviorist and animal trainer Karen Pryor has a concise, classic definition of a behavioral reinforcer:1

A reinforcer is anything that, occurring in conjunction with an act, tends to increase the probability that the act will occur again.


  

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