How to make life more rewarding

By Jane

I have recently been thinking about key strengths. These are measured with the VIA strengths survey, developed by Seligman and Peterson as part of Positive Psychology. You can find out about it here:

The survey ranks character strengths, grouped under the virtues of wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence.

One of my strengths is gratitude, and another is generosity or kindness. I have written here about generosity and gratitude before. You can find the article here:

I wonder if we get used to receiving things, so the value reduces? This would mean that the first time we got our free coffee, we are very impacted, but when we received our sixth, eighth and so on, the level of happiness drops off each time. The exercise made me wonder, can we find ways to focus our strengths so we continue to be positively impacted when we use them? I was thinking about this in relation to loyalty cards. I have a lot of loyalty cards! Here is a photo of them:

Large companies use loyalty cards as a way of gathering information about their customers' shopping habits. Every time I use a supermarket, they get demographic information about me, and information about what I have bought and when. From this, they can move from general marketing decisions to specific ones. They know that some people 'earn-and-burn' their rewards, spending them immediately. Others are 'save-for-later' customers. The link to the research is here: https://www.ama.oro/publicatio... Why do some people spend their points immediately, and others save them? Two ideas from Positive Psychology may help us to understand this. They also help me understand my attitude to loyalty cards. These two ideas are Time Perspectives and VIA strengths. Zimbardo developed the Timed Perspective Inventory. I first encountered the Time Perspective Inventory as part of learning about Positive Psychology. You can find it here:

I love it; it makes sense for me

of how my fondness for happy moments in my past, and looking forward to a planned future, impact on how I see the world. Loyalty cards are part of this! I love accruing stamps on my coffee shop card, knowing that my sixth cup will be free. I ensure every book-shop purchase is over £10 (this is never a challenge!) so I get a stamp, which I save up, so I can buy myself a book or two as a Christmas present to myself.

One of my top strengths is kindness (also listed as generosity). This comes under the virtue of humanity, meaning interpersonal strengths that are concerned with befriending and tending other people. Another one is gratitude. This comes under the virtue of transcendence; providing meaning and connecting to the wider universe. Knowing this, I can see how loyalty cards matter!

I was recently in a coffee shop I had not been into for a while. I presented my loyalty card and was told I had qualified for my free hot drink. The pleasure I felt from this was far beyond the value of the financial saving. The VIA strengths helped me understand why. I shared a human exchange with the barista as she made me a drink, and I was very grateful that it was free. The generosity of a simple act of free coffee and a quick chat, impacted on me because it aligned with my VIA strengths. lt also reminded me of an album title from the 1990's; 'an unexpected groovy treat', by the FiniTribe, which you can listen to here:

This is a phrase I love, and I now understand how well it sits with my core values. I love making connections and being kind, and I value receiving kindness too; it really is an unexpected groovy treat.

I want to leave you with a final thought about our strengths. Lieberman (2015) in his book 'Social: why our brains are wired to connect' discusses that we are social creatures, and 'catch' each other's emotions. You can find a link to it here: What I found particularly interesting, is that positive emotions are more contagious, and spread further, than negative emotions. So, next time you get a stamp on your reward card — whether you are a customer receiving the stamp, or the barista giving it, smile.

Make that connection! Spread the love