Because that’s the best way I know of living a “good” life. To live the good life, I’ll want to live a positively interesting life.
There’s something I heard or read about before about performance measurement: that if you want to positively reinforce the behaviour of someone, you should not reward based on outcome, but rather reward based on the activity that leads to the outcome.
For example, let’s say that you know for a fact that a student who studies (assuming you can properly define what “studying” means) for two hours each day performs better in exams than a student who doesn’t study at all.
Let’s say that there’s a particular student whom you have an interest in, and that you want this student to do as well as possible during the upcoming exam. So you try to motivate her by saying that if she receives a B+ and above for the upcoming exam, you’ll be willing to reward her with an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii (I’m assuming the student’s a girl and that she likes going to Hawaii. If it’s a guy, I’m thinking he’d want a Ferrari or similar).
She works really hard, studying two hours or more a day for the exam. Unfortunately for her, nerves get the better of her and she doesn’t do well, despite putting in the hours (possibly due to the murder she witnessed that morning and the fact that her dog died the previous day). Whatever the case, no B+, no reward.
Dejected, she thinks to herself, “why should I work so hard if it’s all going to come to nought?” So she rejects the notion of studying, and does even worse in her next exam.
Now, imagine there’s another student whom you also have an interest in. However, instead of rewarding the student for doing well in the exam, you decide that as long as the student was willing to put in two hours on average a day of studying during the months leading up to the exam, you’d reward her.
Let’s say that she, too, flunks the exam like the first student, receiving a paltry B-. But because she’d put in the hours, you reward her as promised. For her next gig, you put her up for a similar reward. She continues to work hard, studying on average two hours each day, and on the day of the exam (which turned out to be a lovely day) she puts in a masterful performance, receiving an A+.
Studying for an exam is measurable and can be rewarded relatively justly, and it increase the chance for a good outcome (good exam results).
The outcome from all that studying (the examination results), however, is often dependent on chance.
(And let’s not be evil, worldly people and say that it’s a lesson in life to learn how to deal with crap that comes our way, where we may lose everything in a single bad turn of events.)
A positively interesting life, dare I say, is also doable. And measurable.
If I attempt to live it, I might just have a better chance at living the good life.
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