Ramifications of chasing traditional rewards in, “How Not to Get into College”, “Somnambulist”, and “Iced- Cream” Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value”. Implying that people tend to get blinded in the hunt of personal triumph in their lives that they forget what really is important to them. Similarly, in Alfie Kohn’s How “Not to Get into College”, Daniel Barwick’s “The So Called Iced Cream” and Heron Jones’s Somnambulist, the authors develop the message that people assume that chasing external rewards equals joy and satisfaction in their lives.
However, their intentions ultimately lead to temporary happiness, long term problems mainly due to the fact that they expel the thought of intrinsic values from their lives and by re-establishing these values happiness is accomplishable. People assume that chasing extrinsic rewards will bring back the joy and comfort back into their lives, yet they are only left in depression. First of all, in Alfie Kohn’s essay, the students in fear of the future, view grades as a resolution to their problems.
For instance, in order to run away from their concerns students begin “asking teachers, ‘Do we need to know this? ‘ and grimly trying to squeeze out another few points on the G. P. A or the SAT; in the process [the students began] losing sleep, losing friends, losing perspective” (Paragraph, 7). Despite the fact that students are primarily motivated through the extrinsic rewards of grades, it only seems to create more distress in their lives. Secondly, in Barwick’s essay, Mr. Burns visions his long lost teddy bear as something that can provide him eternal happiness although even with the bear Mr. Burns is discontent with his life.
For example, Mr. Burns is still unhappy even though “he was reunited with his precious teddy bear, Bobo” (Paragraph 3). Even though Mr. Burns thought the bear would bring happiness back into his life, Burns still was depressed with his life. Thirdly, in Heron Jones’s poem “Somnambulist”, workers are extrinsically motivated to earn promotions, thus voluntarily helping the bosses reach their goals, yet it only adds to the misery in the lives. For example, [when the workers] “awake, and sleep-walk to work.
Dreamin’ another’s dream, so I silently curse, Cause the company’s only need for me, Is to continue dreaming the owner’s dream/ To make his pockets heavy like metal. Even though the workers see it as understandable to be chasing raises, raises and other rewards, simultaneously it is causing the workers more suffering than joy. Therefore, people with extrinsic aspirations believe that a cheerful and comforting life can be reached, though ultimately are left with despair along the path. Even in the long run, the idea of chasing external accolades only happens to repeat itself.
First of all, in Kohn’s essay, after the students gained admission into colleges their mindset of pursing traditional rewards only continued as now they were now worried about finding jobs instead of improving grades. For instance, Kohn writes that, students in university would “scan the catalogue for college courses that promised easy A’s… They’d define themselves as pre-med, pre-law, pre-business… nose stuck into the future, ever more frantic… until, perhaps, they might wake up one night in a tastefully appointed bedroom to discover their lives were mostly gone” (Paragraph,8).
Even with the acceptance into universities, students still are not satisfied with their lives, justifies chasing accolades as a repeating cycle. Secondly, in Barwick’s essay, pursing only the tangible reward becomes Mr. Burns’s long term problem while discarding anything else that comes in his way. For example, during the bowling game “winning the worthless bowling trophy is more important to him than the sweet, albeit momentary, pleasure of a group of jocular friends [brings to a person] and in the end everything turns out to bore him” (Paragraph, 4).
Even though Mr. Burns has friends by his side he views external rewards as substitutes for love and friendship, ultimately leading him to a regretful and unfulfilled life. Thirdly, in Heron Jones’s “Somnambulist”, the workers believe it’s alright to be chasing the promotions and bonuses, yet that same reason is the cause of their miseries. For instance, Jones himself declares that he “get[s] vexed when a fellow employee says he loves the Matrix/ Cause the Matrix don’t love you.
They’ll gift wrap your pink slip in a pillowcase; downsizing is what they’ll state, / And deep inside you know your job’s not safe, but you love the Matrix. Through the metaphor, Jones implies that even though people are dissatisfied with their lives, they still try to convince themselves that their satisfied in hopes of achieving the traditional rewards which society lusts for. Regardless of the exact point in life, the craving for rewards only continues as people never become satisfied.
Everyone ranging from the students in Kohn’s essay, Mr. Burns in Barwick’s essay, and the Workers in Jones’s poem are all driven through the desire of attaining happiness through extrinsic morals, yet they never truly feel fulfilled in life. However, by matching their extrinsic approach with an intrinsic approach, satisfaction in life can be achieved. First of all, in Kohn’s essay, people including students and parents need to understand that non-acceptance into toptier universities is not the end of the world.
For instance, Kohn indicates that as educators it’s part of their job “to help students and parents understand that the difference between acceptance to a moderately elite college and acceptance to an extremely elite college does not justify sacrificing everything (health, happiness, friends, love of learning) in a desperate effort to gain access to the latter” (paragraph 18). Kohn suggests that it is not worth the hassle to endure the suffering in order achieve contentment later in life, hence enjoying the present instead of worrying about the future is a much more realistic option that can bring joy in one’s life.
Secondly, in Barwick’s essay, Mr. Burns needs to accept things for what they are, instead of what they may bring or lead to. For example, during the local festival, Mr. Burns enjoys the ice cream “merely for what it is; enjoying the physical pleasure of the cold clean icecream” (Page 4). Here Mr. Burns does not associate his extrinsic approach to the ice cream and chooses to act in a more intrinsic fashion. Therefore, if Mr. Burns can apply this approach toward other things in life, he can achieve gratification in his lifetime. Finally, in Jones’s “Somnambulist”, workers depressed with their lives need to stand up for themselves.
For instance, near the d of the poem lones mentions, “you gotta have an idea to mold and shape or else be that nightmare walking” and also declares “why do we sleep, while he builds and accumulates” to the workers (Stanza, 9). Through the quote, Jones suggests that by driving for the unattainable extrinsic rewards, the workers are only helping their ruthless bosses achieve their aspirations. In conclusion, the moral created through the works is that extrinsic values cannot buy happiness in our lives and the only way to reach that level in life is depend upon intrinsic values.