Saturday, November 10, 2007

in humanistic psychology, there is a concept that actions can be self-determined or controlled.
-self determined behaviors are those that have an intrinsic value to us
-controlled actions are those we do because of a reward or to satisfy pressure

how long we stay interested in a certain behavior depends on whether we view it as controlled or self determined - it's been shown that people stay more interested in actions they feel are self determined

in a study done in the 1970's it was demonstrated that when children were excessively rewarded for drawing (something they enjoy doing naturally), they lost interest in it. this is called "turning play into work".
when the children felt that drawing became a controlled task, a job, it wasnt interesting anymore.

it seems to me that if we feel that our torah observance is self determined we will stay much more interested in it than if we feel it is controlled.. even more important, i think that children who are taught to view their torah observance as a controlled behavior might eventually lose interest in it..

believing in a system of reward and punishment is part of a torah perspective - it isnt up for debate...
but... the motivation behind our torah observance is for us to decide. do we follow the torah so we can get a reward and avoid punishment or do we do it because we feel that there is an intrinsic value in it?

if we want to feel a sense of self determination in our lives, that we are choosing how to live our lives and that our choices are autonomous and not imposed, we need to start viewing our behaviors that way.

regardless of whether someone was raised religious or not, at some point in our lives we all need to "choose" our behavior, and more importantly, we need to choose it for the right reason - not because we feel pressured or guilty and not so we can get a reward but because we view our choices as being intrinsically worthy.

teaching kids that every mitzvah/aveirah they do will get a "reward" or a "punishment" is reinforcing this idea that torah observance is a controlled behavior...
in addition, humans have a need to receive unconditional affection. if we feel that affection - from parents, teachers, ourselves and most importantly from G-d - is dependent on conditional behavior, we risk losing interest when it gets too difficult...

so.. o
f course positive behavior should be rewarded and encouraged, but not excessively and not as the only motivator. in order to feel self actualized and a sense of autonomy, we have to remind ourselves and emhasize to children that there are more important and more intrinsically valuable reasons for keeping mitzvot
until we internalize this...we risk losing interest..

(one thing i want to mention is that im not refering to anyone who feels that they are observing thetorah because of societal pressures - thats a whole other (bigger issue). what im referring to here are those who want to be torah observant but dont always enjoy it or appreciate it or feel self actualized in it)


At Sunday, November 11, 2007 5:20:00 PM, Anonymous McGregor said...

Lol abt the comic.

If you experience the divine first hand - then yes, you can see the intrinsic benefit of serving God.
But the caveat is that to reach that level and to stay there you have to be in a state of constant mesirus nefesh, or what some kabbalists call birurim, and the rest of us call yisurim.

Also, whenever there is intrinsic motivation to do a mitzva, it loses some of its value as a mitzva, because you need mesirus nefesh, self sacrifice, which means you do things that you don't see as intrinsically beneficial. This element is part and parcel of many but not all mitzvos. For example, sitting in the sukka.

Nevertheless, what you recommend as the way to bring up children really compliments what the sages say about chinuch on the pasuk: "chanoch lenaar lefi darko gam ki yazkin lo yisur mimeno". So you'd both, sorta make it sweet for them and force them a little bit too. Sorta pat them on the back and then work your way down and whack them on the butt. ;) Sounds like the middle road to me.

At Sunday, November 11, 2007 7:11:00 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Hey you haven't visited my blog in a while. What happened :-(

At Sunday, November 11, 2007 8:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good comic

At Monday, November 12, 2007 11:38:00 AM, Anonymous anonym00kie said...

im not sure what that means "experiencing the divine first hand"..
the intrinsic benefit of keeping torah that i can benefit from is that it connects me to my creator/source.. so, if i want to feel connected, at peace, harmonious in my existence, then g-d tells me how to do it - by following the torah - that is its intrinsic value i can relate to at this point in my life.

i also dont know what "being in a state of constant mesirus nefesh" means practically but in order to benefit i need to be in constant striving to connect.

as for the mitzvah losing value - first of all, i dont care, and second of all, im not sure i agree :)
i dont care because at this point in my life my main focus is to KEEP the torah not to get the most value out of it. sometimes being extreme in our expectations is just an excuse to fail. g-d doesnt expect me to perform the torah at the highest level possible.. he expects me to do my best considering who i am.. and with that I can grow slowly and slowly. there will always be intrinsic value to the torah (or else it wouldnt exist) the difference is that as i grow, my understanding of this intrinsic value gets deeper, more cosmic and less personal.

i havent visited lots of blogs lately.. :)

At Monday, November 12, 2007 12:30:00 PM, Blogger yingerman said...

So if my average a+ kis is stealing and lying I should,
Hit him on the head with his favorite cupcake?
Tell him how proud I am while he stand in the time out spot?

At Monday, November 12, 2007 2:13:00 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Interesting read. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree. I need to think about it more. But thank you for this. I needed something to think about.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:05:00 PM, Anonymous McGregor said...

"the intrinsic benefit of keeping torah that i can benefit from is that it connects me to my creator/source.. " It would be intrinsic if you really experienced it that way, but the connection is not a part of your experience. It's merely a statement.
A child eats vitamins for their intrinsic sake when they taste like candy. When they taste bitter he eats them because his mom said he ought to. An adult goes to work for its intrinsic value when he enjoys his work. Enjoyment, pleasure, benefit is the only motivation that can be called intrinsic. If you don't enjoy doing something but you do it anyway then you are doing it for some other reason.
That's why serving Hashem for the intrinsic value of serving Him can only come about when one experiences this service as something pleasant or fulfilling. The only way to experience self-sacrifice as a joy is for you to see Hashem or experience His presence, which is the intrinsic sweetness of serving Him. Merely knowing that doing certain things brings you closer to Him without actually experiencing the closeness as something beneficial is not being intrinsically motivated.
So it's easy to say we must teach children to appreciate doing mitzvos. But what's in it for them to appreciate? Can they experience a state of closeness to the shechina? Can you? Bringing close is just words if you don't feel it that way. And words don't motivate people, pleasure and joy does.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:21:00 PM, Anonymous anonym00kie said...

mcgregor i totally agree and thats what i meant - i DO feel that closeness and that is what keeps motivating me.
i take the vitamins cuz they taste good!
thats the hardest part about trying to explain to someone that praying WILL make them feel closer and keeping shabbat with all the extras WILL make them feel closer.. how do you explain to someone that qualitative difference in similar experiences?

had i never felt it, maybe i wouldnt be so confident in saying it.. but i have and i do.
those who taught me experienced it too and i could see it in them eventho at the time i couldnt relate personally.. but i trusted them enough to give it a chance.. and eventually i "got it", i started to feel it to.

the real intrinsic value of keeping a mitzvah is probably kabalistic, and thats way beyond where im holding, but.. on a more personal level i can honestly say that what motivates me on a day to day basis to keep going is that the void i feel when i stop is unbearable and the harmony i feel when i resume is priceless.

the caveat, like you said - is that it requires continued effort and the results are not always instantenous.. but once youve felt it, achieved it.. you rely on your memory that it can come back if you keep trying..

At Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:49:00 AM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

I agree about the intrinsic values.

while reward and punishment tells us that our actions have consequences, I think people would be more motivated if they were taught to love Hashem and were shown the beauty of the mitzvos so they want to keep them. Also, if children were taught that the mitzvos are nourishment for their neshama like food is to the body, that might help too.

At Monday, November 19, 2007 10:00:00 AM, Blogger The Dreamer said...

Pirkei avos says that we should NOT do the mizvos for the schar, the reward. Even though there is a reward for doing mitzvos, that shouldn't be the focus.
So I guess you're saying the same thing.
Baruch Shekivant.

At Monday, November 19, 2007 3:25:00 PM, Blogger Nemo said...

You know, (CHB"D) Chassidus emphasizes doing Mitzvos because that's quintessentially important to G-d that a person thereby connect to Him. Would you categorize that as a self-determined behavior because the person himself senses the importance of making this connection, or would you consider it a controlled behavior because superficially it is done to serve a non-intrinsic, culturally-engendered purpose?

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 12:42:00 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

nemo, i think if it has instrinsic value to you then it is self determined. its possible that part of your values and wats important to you is to connect to g-d, to make him happy, to do what he wants.. but ure not doing it because you have to, youre doing it because you find it valuable..

it's interesting because the "Daily Dose of Wisdom" today says: "If you do His will only because it makes sense to you, then what has it got to do with Him? You are doing your will. You're back in prison."

I'm not sure I agree with that attitude. Maybe ultimately our only goal should be to do his will because it is his will - no questions asked.. but im not sure thats the right attitude for regular poeple like us. in fact i think g-d gave us the ability to make sense of things precisely for that reason, because it is demanding way too much of us to be so committed to controlled behavior.

At Thursday, December 06, 2007 4:08:00 PM, Anonymous McGregor said...

Hey, mookie, you haven't blogged for a while. Everything ok?

At Thursday, December 06, 2007 4:12:00 PM, Anonymous anonym00kie said...

ya :)
busy with life..
not in the mood to blog..

happy happy chanuka :)

At Saturday, December 08, 2007 7:36:00 PM, Anonymous McGregor said...

A happy lichtig chanuka and a healthy year.

At Saturday, December 08, 2007 8:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for joining so late in the conversation, but just a quick question: the torah is there to provided us with a better quality of living,but if we do a mitsva then the highest form of doing the mitsva is when you don't take any personal pleasure from it? Surely that would detract from the joy we are suposed to take from life...
chag sameach.

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 11:52:00 PM, Anonymous sarah (b.) said...

thank you.



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