Behaviorism gets a bad rap. We aren’t Pavlov’s dogs. Our lives aren’t conducted completely inside of a Skinner Box. We have thoughts, emotions, preferences, and experiences.
At the same time, some of the most powerful influences in the world drive our lives through frank behaviorism. A notification on my phone triggers craving in me just as well as any dog. I’ve got a 6-inch, battery-powered, operant conditioning machine in my pocket right now. And there are thousands of products offering cheap satisfaction that I can have right now.
There are deep reasons for why we do what we do–and they’re worth exploring. But while we’re discovering the context for our decisions, it’s really nice to replace a few of our more impairing triggers with frequent reminders to engage with a few things that bring us lasting meaning.
Because even though crude behaviorism can’t explain everything about people, what we choose to do determines who we become.