Can you resist the siren call of immediate gratification – when it comes to food, love, lust, money, Facebook, texting etc? Chances are if you’re having a problem right now in your life, it’s due to your needing to practice better impulse control. Read on…
The other evening I told my 4 year old son it was time to brush his teeth.
His reply: “I’m sorry, mom. I’m just not feeling it right now.”
Yes, my son is 4 going on 16!
The truth: It doesn’t matter if you’re 4 or 16 or 116.Often the most important things we all need to do wind up double-dutying as things we do not feel like doing.
Quickie Examples From My Own I-Don’t-Want To Do List:
Eat less chocolate
Shop within a budget
Work on taxes
Share a “loving, courageous dialogue” with my partner
When I look at this list, I can clearly see how my biggest opportunities for happiness and growth are consistently preceded by a big, whiny: “But I’m just not feeling it right now!”
The reason we feel resistance? It’s far more fun to seek immediate gratification – than to delay gratification – even if we know there’s an awesome longer-term benefit awaiting.
Examples of “a longer term benefit”:
Brush teeth = no holes in your teeth
Clean up = live in a comfy home and know where the heck things are
Exercise = be healthy & energized
Don’t eat too much chocolate = no sugar high followed by fatigue plunge & weight gain
Do work = pride & success & ability to pay for comfy home, food and coffee
Shop within a budget = ability to keep on paying for comfy home, food and coffee
Work on taxes = certainty that I will stay living in my comfy home
Share a “loving, courageous dialogue” with my partner = more loving, longer-lasting relationship
We all recognize that hard work, patience and willpower are important. Yet, when given the choice between chocolate versus salad – or sleeping late versus working out – we’re often tempted to choose the thing which feels good in the moment.
We can go through life choosing what’s easy instead of what’s right – and wind up mightily disappointed.
Often the hardest thing and the most right thing are the same exact thing! You should never sacrifice what you want most in life, in swap for what you want now. A comfort zone might be nice place to hang out in – but nothing truly awesome ever grows there.
I confess I’ve been lured in to take the easy/fast route on many occasions. I’ve eaten too much, spent too much, exercised too little, blurted out things I regret. I’ve even gotten engaged far too soon.
Yep. Pretty much all my problems (big and small) have happened because I acted too quickly on my impulses.
Our inability to delay gratification not only wreaks havoc in our personal world, but also in our world at large. Look around. There’s a high divorce rate – because people are more apt to end relationships rather than work on them. There’s an epidemic of obesity and plentiful stories of credit card debt. More people than ever are being diagnosed with impulse control disorders. Plus the number of children and adults with attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and addictions are all on the rise.
Let’s get real. We all know it’s not simply the smartest people who score the highest grades and biggest salaries. It’s those who are willing to delay gratification – and put in the effort of discipline to study hard and pay their dues at a job – or any skill to be mastered.
Basically, when you’re unable to resist immediate gratification you wreak major havoc.
THE SIREN CALL OF IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION CREATES INFINITE WORLD WIDE PROBLEMS:
addictions (to food, drugs, alcohol, porn, shopping)
high divorce rate
saying mean things in the moment
anger management issues
compulsive behaviors of all kinds
our nation’s debt
cheating in business
cheating in love
any & all sensation-seeking behavior
low self esteem
Many businesses also fail due to being hooked on the fleeting feel-good of immediate gratification. They hire super quickly – to fill that empty spot – then get stuck with employees they don’t want – but don’t fire them – because they don’t want to deal with filling another empty spot. They make safe choices for each quarter – instead of bolder choices that will benefit the company in the longer-term. They reach for quick-fixes, instead of putting in the work of finding out the systemic cause to their problems – which is usually some form of seeking immediate gratification.
There’s a plethora of problems we create due to immediate gratification – and they’re only increasing as our world speeds up each technologically-advancing day.
For eons we humans have wanted our desires to be satisfied right away. Well, we now finally live in an eon which can satisfy our urge for urgency.
We’ve become addicted to our gadgets. We love the instant-feel-good of our cellphones – often over the longer-term benefits of taking the time to meet up with loved ones in person – or even spending time alone, sitting, reflecting, thinking.
Presently the U.S. is dealing with many problems due to people being hooked on wanting that “immediate gratification high”: financial problems, environmental problems,ecological problems, health problems, obesity problems, crime problems, etc…
Plus, each year these problems just keep getting worst – because we’re ironically seeking “immediate gratification solutions” to the very problems created by our addiction to immediate gratification!
The time has come to fully recognize that speed-centric methods just can’t fix the mess we’re in.
We need to slow down and dig down! We need to take mindful time to make more conscious, long-term-focused choices – in health, education, business, relationships, financial matters, parenting, etc.
Hear this now:
The ability to delay gratification is the most important life skill we must all learn to embrace – if we want to ensure living a happy, satisfying and successful life – plus ensure we do not destroy our planet.
I will be writing more about this incredibly important subject – in a series of essays. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be sure you get notice of the next essay. In the meantime, click here plus also over here to read 2 essays with “quick” tips for “slowing down”! And if you’re seeking psychological tools to resist the immediate gratification pull for food, click here now!
Dealing with toxic people: friends, lovers, family members, work people? Want tools to let go and heal – and strategies to find and maintain happier relationships? Join me and my fellow Oprah columnist Andrea Syrtash in a new online course called NO MORE TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS – which starts April 1st. You can join us live – or do the online course at your own pace and convenience. Click here to find out more! Plus – if you register soon we’re offering a HUGE discount!