Everything is instant, and that can be amazing. Amazon can get you just about whatever your heart desires with “2-day shipping" right at your door. Are you needing a little self-esteem pick me up? Post that really good pic of you from 4 years ago on Instagram and you can feel instantly better once the likes start rolling in. There is even instant gratification in the dating world with Tinder.
Just so we are all on the same page, immediate gratification can be defined as the act of sacrificing a future benefit to experience a more instant satisfaction. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But what happens when we lose the ability to achieve long-term tasks and goals because of our constant exposure and surrender to instant gratification?
Long-term tasks are things as insignificant as doing laundry or cleaning the house. Then why is this even that important? Well, because these tasks also include more meaningful undertakings like practicing and preparing for a job interview. This has a serious impact on your life.
Unhealthy habits stem from procrastinating the more long-term tasks for the more immediately satisfying ones. This means rushing to get in a relationship, swerving through traffic and driving like a maniac (**cough, cough Alabamians), waiting to start that diet tomorrow, or even worrying about the future instead of allowing everything to happen in due time.
This idea that anything we want can and should come instantly screws a lot of people over, myself included. The curse of instant gratification leaves us incapable of processing our emotions in healthy ways. Instead of dealing with the core of the problem, we constantly distract ourselves with the little slices of instant gratification we have at our disposal at all times.
It is so incredibly difficult to process negative emotions that sometimes we think it is easier to distract ourselves. In the long run, that comes back around to bite us in the bums. That negative emotion is now magnified and multiplied by 100. Also, while you were busy stifling down all of those negative feeling you were interfering with all of the positive emotions, too. Yeah, that backfired.
So how do we solve this problem? Well, the first step to solving any issue is becoming aware of the problem in the first place. Then, we can begin to shift our mindset from wanting to distract ourselves from our problems to wanting to process and validate our problems in a healthy way.
This is no simple task but the rewards are great in the future if you make this change. I know what you are thinking, “This is too much work, and I don’t feel like doing all of that." That is just your tendency to fall back on the instantly satisfying. You immediately gain nothing from becoming more aware of instant gratifications, so what is the point?
It is okay to experience these feelings. It is human nature to want to do the things that bring instant pleasure. All I am asking is this: the next time you have the option to do something that benefits you now or in the future, choose the long-term task. Choose the later instead of the now. Recognize that urge to do the more instantly gratifying and simply resist to act on it.
The world needs to be less dependent of instant gratifications and more willing to put in the hard work now to achieve wonderful things later. It is hard, and it is not fun at times but it is something that could improve many aspects of your life. Try it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.