Why We Do What We Do by Edward Deci is a book that gets you thinking out of the box about your behaviors and the factors that may manipulate your behaviors. Deci seamlessly incorporates scientific data and clinically tried experiments, while conveying his quintessential message of the text, to be authentic/autonomous in your actions and behaviors. Deci defines behaving authentically and autonomously as, “being the author of one’s actions-acting in accord with one’s true inner self.” Although he later argues in the book that many people never have a chance of discovering their true self, as they are too pre-occupied existing under extrinsic pressures or intrinsic manipulations that guides their daily life to find out. Furthermore, Deci delves into the processes of extrinsic rewards and their negative effects on the psyche, as he illustrates through multiple case studies that people do better and are happier performing a task if they are doing it for themselves, versus for some external pressure or extrinsic reward. There are also some amazing tidbits on teaching, managing, and leading, as well as great insight on how to be authentic/autonomous supportive of your peers, colleagues, and students. In summation, if you are interested in becoming autonomous/authentic in your everyday actions and behaviors, as well as learn more effective ways to motivate people, then this is the book for you.
My favorite part of the book was the first chapter, Authority and It's Discontents. The exposition to Deci's thought processes and feelings on people's true motives behind their actions, behaviors, and motivators is mind blowing. However, my favorite part of this chapter was his breakdown of our actions as being autonomous/authentic rather than pressured or forced. Deci accentuates the need for people to act volitionally in their behaviors and actions, as they may harbor feelings of disdain or rebellion if they are externally pressured to do the everyday actions that entail their lives. Deci, further breaks down the concept of authentic behaviors in this chapter as the art of having behaviors integrated versus interpolated into people's lives, with the key finding that people perform better at tasks/designated behaviors that they volitionally integrate into their lives. Deci cites an example of a person attempting to diet in this chapter to detail his finding, as he states that the person intrinsically motivated to diet will have far better success and rewards from the process than the person that is dieting to please a pressure that they are externally facing.
I relate a lot of the principles that were found in this book to the slides on drugs, as I question how many people that use are acting authentically rather than rebelling against an external force that they are facing. I have mentioned several times before that Deci's key finding in the book is the power of intrinsic motivation, and I often wonder how many of these poor souls that are strung out on narcotics are wasting away the talents that they possess because of the external pressures they are facing. After reading this book, I have become so thankful that I have always had a keen belief in myself and my abilities, as I have found out multiple times over my college/life career the power of intrinsic belief. I feel like Why We Do What We Do would be a great book to make mandatory reading for patients in detox or drug therapy, as I feel it will provide a lot of relief of their internal pain and highlight the reasons that caused them to start using in the first place. Essentially, I feel as if we all have something unique to contribute to this planet, and I hate to see young souls taken by narcotics before they share their gift. Therefore, I feel like this book could stop a lot of people that abuse narcotics from jumping off the ledge so to say, and again affirm in them their belief that they lost, the belief they should have in themselves.
To transfer the learning and knowledge that I gained from this book to other elements in my life I will keep the teachings that I have learned from Deci near and dear. For example, for every task or activity I assign myself in the future, I will try to hone in on what brought me there in the first place, being that somewhere, subconsciously I thought this was an event worth doing. Another way that I will use the teachings in this book to help me in life is to intrinsically motivate me to do my schoolwork, as I will tap into the reasons that I started school and reflect on how far I have come to get to this point to push me through the hurdles that we all face come semester time. In all, I could talk about the teachings in this book forever, but I encourage you to read it yourself to find out some of the underlying secrets of success!