emotional/sensations – desire for social connection, bonding, purpose, inspiration, passion, hope, various highs, meaning
spiritual – desire to understand the truth, beauty, clarity
We look for reward in all the 3 spheres.
But the interesting question is what is this reward?
In my experience, I’ve noticed that we use our thinking process/conceptualizations to create trenches that we try to fill. A desire is kind of like a trench, the deeper the trench the harder we try to fill it up.
Immediate gratification works more on impulses. You feel a strong impulse to do something, it instantly creates a trench and you immediately do an action that fills it up. The “reward” is acquired when you fill the trench up. Maybe this has to do with the fact that we understand everything from their opposites. So an acute lack of something makes you maximally sensitive to it. So when an acute lack is satisfied, you feel a glorious reward. There are other day to day examples, water tastes the best when your need for it is extreme/extremely thirsty. Maybe, that is why people like drama in their lives because it harnesses this play of creating trenches and filling them. This may also explain why someone may watch a horror/murder film because in contrast to the panic shown their own life’s safety is revealed. If the trench is too deep and whatever action you take just fills 5-10% of it, then its a case of depression. But there is one more aspect to this, the trench needs maintenance. You may also lose reward because of not maintaining them. It can be deepened or made shallow by changing thinking patterns or by external influences. For example: Everyday, I hear a particular song and conceptualize a situation while hearing. Each day I do it, the conceptualization gets strengthened and the reward is correspondingly more. If I stop doing it for 5 days the trench may get deep and I may enjoy the song much more. But if I leave a really long gap then the trench might have got shallow like how wax flattens with time, I would need to rekindle that memory. Maybe that is why they recommend keeping short goals so that the trench doesn’t get too deep and you lose reward. Even in romantic relationships, with time, we build a deep trench that is satisfied each time you interact with this person. That is why a breakup = some kind of depression since you have the deep trench but nothing to fill it up. I think this concept is very similar to ‘Samskaras’ in Buddhism. I realized this when I started meditating and becoming more of a neutral observer. I felt something big that I used to enjoy is missing now, whenever I maintained the observer state. Then I hit upon this idea and realized that when I plainly observe, I am not a part of this game of trenches at all and that’s what I was missing.