Anne was still at her desk long after 6pm. The others had gone home, but she was still finishing off the mountain of paperwork that just wouldn't shrink. Finally nearing the end, she felt a bit self-conscious when her boss came over to her workstation, but didn't want to stop. She was on a roll, and thought, "If I stop now, I may not finish at all."
"How you doing, Anne? Looks like you're moving really fast!" her boss said. She acknowledged him, but kept on working.
"This is the first time you've done this much work, and you're absolutely killing it. Just keep going. You're doing great, Anne!" He gave her a little punch on the shoulder.
A minute later, spurred by his encouragement, she was done. She stood to grab her jacket, and saw him standing behind her, watching. He clapped his hands together loudly. "Awesome! You did it!" She felt a wave of relief wash over her, and though she just wanted to go home and suffer in silence, she let him put an arm around her shoulders and give her a squeeze. "That was amazing. I'm proud of you! Maybe the best you've ever DONE!"
Luke wasn't having a great day. He'd been excited all morning: being promoted from stocking the food shelves to Electronics was a big deal, but as his shift neared, he started to become nervous. Maybe he wasn't READY for the heavier boxes, or the challenging setups he'd have to figure out on his own. Maybe his boss had given him the promotion because he couldn't find anyone else. Everyone else had already moved onward and upward, and Luke was trailing behind, still doing the same job as the new hires.
When the time came for work, Luke realized he hadn't eaten for hours. He was hungry. His pants didn't match his blue vest very well, and others were sure to notice. He was short, and wasn't sure he could lift the heavier pieces high enough to reach the shelves. He didn't really know anyone in Electronics, so he put his head down and started to bumble through; one box on another, slide the cart, start from the bottom again. He had a system down...but the boxes were getting heavier, and the shelves higher to reach.
At the end of his last row, Luke looked up to see his final target: a shelf, high above his head, on which he'd have to shove the final, expensive box. A bright yellow "Team Lift" sticker was on the top cardboard flap, but there wasn't anyone else around, so Luke carefully maneuvered the box into his lap alone.
"You need help, Luke?" he heard behind him. "I got it," he replied with more optimism than he felt. Struggling upward, he inched the box to his shoulders. A few others were gathering around him. "C'mon, Luke!" they encouraged. "You can get this!"
He slid his hands under the box, sure he'd be leaving a sweat mark. "Here we go, Luke!" his manager yelled. "Push yourself under it!" cheered a girl from nearby Arts and Crafts. Heaving, Luke managed to slowly press the box up, and snuck the edge of the box onto the shelf. "Finish it!" called a stranger. "Just slide it on! You're almost there!" He did. Then he sat down, winded, while a team of blue-vested comrades slapped him on the back and ruffled his hair. "Awesome, Luke! That was sweet!" they said, as they congratulated him and moved on.
Think either of the above scenarios is likely?
One of the great insights I've gained while writing Enrichment Through Exercise was this nugget from Coach Ty: "No matter what else happens in the session, the client has to leave happy. This is probably the only positive feedback they'll get ALL DAY. If we make no other progress, we have to make sure the child gets praise for SOMETHING."
Enrichment Through Exercise - the book
In, "The Power of Habit," by Charles Duhigg, the author goes into great detail on the pleasure response cycle of the brain. Much like Pavlov's dogs, the brain learns to anticipate a reward associated with an activity - it drools at the thought of food - and eventually becomes depressed if it ISN'T rewarded.
This is what we're up against in the fitness industry: hardwired but unconscious brain signals that reward Betty for sitting on the couch and watching television at night. The familiar brings us pleasure; the unfamiliar brings us pain.
To encourage exercise, Duhigg recommends rewarding yourself with "...a smoothie or extra television time." I can think of a better option.