“The Four Secrets to Happiness” is a short story of the two reward systems responsible for our happiness as based from a psychological standpoint. The author, Jane McGonigal, effectively discusses the intrinsic reward system and the theory of the four categories that result in long-term happiness. Additionally, she discusses the findings of extrinsic rewards having a negative impact and how we are programmed by society to follow the American Dream, which in fact is composed of extrinsic rewards. However, the author’s background as a gamer, designer, and researcher leads to an unexpected ending that does not support the intrinsic reward system in this reader’s opinion.
Intrinsic rewards are generated when we set out to create our own happiness. These are created by the sheer effort of engaging in life. Hard work is what makes it more rewarding, therefore creating a sustainable level of happiness. The author describes this as “the positive emotions, personal strengths, and social connections that we build by engaging intensely with the world around us” (368). The four intrinsic rewards include the following: satisfying work, being successful, social connection, and a deeper meaning to our existence. McGonigal speaks of these as “the foundation for optimal human experience” (371). Other than our basic human survival needs, these rewards drive us and create a lasting, positive influence.
The first intrinsic reward is the act of doing satisfying work. It is human nature to need to see results from our work and to see we have a direct impact for our efforts. If this is not an innate human need then why are we not fulfilled with the monotonous tasks that are required of us on a daily basis. Individuals long for more, moreover, to be doing work that is satisfying on a deeper level.
On another level, individuals need to feel successful. This need for success McGonigal describes as, “feeling powerful in our own lives and sharing our success with others” (371). It is human nature to need to be accomplished and constantly striving to meet our maximum potential. The freedom to make decisions and develop as individuals gives that sense of power to control one’s actions and moreover the consequences of those actions. Have you noticed when a goal is reached that has been worked hard and long for the innate need to share that experience occurs?
The need to share our experiences is the third intrinsic reward, social connections. As humans so much happiness is derived from social interactions. These interactions may be with like-minded individuals or opposing personalities. They both have the same...