How to Break the Addiction of Instant Gratification
So what is instant gratification?
I’m sure you already have a pretty good grasp of this relatively simple concept, the real question is why is it important to know and more deeply understand?
We’ll get to that, but just so we’re clear, here’s instant gratification defined:
Pursuing activities that are pleasurable in the short term at the expense of activities that lead to pleasure in the long term.
Great. You’ve now learned the definition, now what? Back to pouring over the latest gossip on Facebook? Maybe it’s time to fire up Netflix? Or how about a nice little private pleasure session with Palmela Handerson?
Those are all perfectly acceptable and normal activities to engage in right at this moment and they also happen to be great examples of instant gratification.
Maybe it’d be worth delaying those pleasures for a few minutes more while you dive a little deeper on this topic. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something that could be beneficial to your well-being in the long term.
The Importance of Understanding Instant Gratification
Now you know what instant gratification is but how exactly does it apply to your life? Why is it important?
It is important because it is quite possibly the single most intoxicating and damaging drug you could possibly release into your brain.
Not because it physically harms your body in any way, but because it can take an otherwise healthy mind that has goals, dreams and ambitions and drive it into focusing only on pleasuring itself in the very immediate future. A fate that, for some, keeps them bonded to a life of mediocrity that eliminates the possibility for happiness and fulfillment by keeping them from investing the necessary time in activities that will help them get to where they want to be in life.
This fate is arguably worse than the fate of those who take illegal substances to get high. And at least with narcotics, you know it’s bad for you. Instant gratification though is much sneakier and much more ubiquitous. The paraphernalia hides in plain sight… your computer, your cell phone, your TV… a powerful drug you can willingly inject into your brain at any given moment.
A drug this powerful and dangerous must be understood and carefully managed if you ever want reach your dreams. It must be used responsibly and not allowed to completely cloud your long term judgement.
How to Break the Addiction
Through this more detailed understanding, I want you to honestly assess your life right now and how much time you spend engaging in instantly gratifying activities. Whether it’s to procrastinate on some important project or to cover up the pains and struggles in your life.
Seriously stop reading and assess! Take just 5 minutes then you’re welcome to continue onto the next paragraph.
Next, think of something you have always really wanted to achieve in life, a difficult and challenging life goal you have always put off in favor of simpler, easier, more convenient pleasures that take far less work but necessarily provide very little reward.
You know the drill… 5 minutes.
Now come up with one action item you can do right now to make even the smallest amount of progress on that goal today and take that action.
I swear this is the last 5 minute chunk of your time.
You have now gone from learning the definition of instant gratification to understanding how it affects your life to defeating it.
Wasn’t so bad was it? Only took 15 minutes out of your day and while you probably haven’t made any substantial progress, I can guarantee that 15 minutes was infinitely more valuable to your life than learning The Top 10 Reasons Why Cats Are Adorable or what some famous person did with their life last week.
Often we build up things in our mind far too much, make mountains out of mole hills if you will, which provides ample excuse to constantly default to instant gratification instead of taking those small positive actions that really aren’t all that bad.
Now go ahead and make an effort to work that last activity in throughout your coming weeks and months, remember that it won’t actually take you that long and you’ll still have plenty of time for your instant gratification pleasures. The difference is you will eventually find that you’re making substantial progress towards your goals and, as you get closer to reaching those goals, will likely even find that making each step of progress becomes more rewarding than the self-sabotaging instant gratification activities.
Don’t let the cloud of instant gratification blind you to the reaching the life you truly desire. Continue applying this knowledge and eventually you will become more successful than you even thought possible.
Curious to learn more? I go into greater detail here: How to Overcome Instant Gratification and Achieve Success