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Pitfalls of instant gratification

instant gratification

Gratification (delayed or instant) is one of the most important determinants of our lot in life. For most of us, instant gratification is the preferred choice. We might as well have our share of the cake than to wait in anticipation. Consequently, this seemingly simple I-want-it-now attitude has influenced some key aspects of our life.

Those who are able to take on the challenge of the waiting game are usually the achievers. The impatient though are stuck in circles; their tendency for instant gratification has led them nowhere; they are at lost in handling the discomfort inherent in every aspect of transitions. Hard work, patience, perseverance and creativity are all circumvented on its behalf. We lose sight of what we want to achieve, and more inimical is our belief that chance will never favor us in the future. So we grab with urgency. When questions arise we want immediate answers, when problem nags we want immediate solutions, venturing into business we want immediate conversions—everything that will put instant gratification we immediately aspire. However, long-term achievement in life does not abide by this rule.

Let me sight some areas of life that are mostly affected by this predilection of ours.

First is upon embarking on our dreams. In the initial phase we are full of enthusiasm, our creativity is overflowing. We carefully plot our plans of action to get our desired results. Then notice something, when all is laid accordingly we are itching for immediate results. We can’t seem to accept the necessity of time! When our impatience has proved its dominance, we let go and give up. Ever imagine why few are successful with their dreams? Instant gratification does not allow the gall of waiting.

Another is on our personal well-being. Since we don’t like discomfort, we prefer the instant gratification of being ensconced in our familiar self—irrespective of our shortcomings, irrespective of our ignorance and irrespective of our need for change. The consequence of this foolishness is our slow and oftentimes painful degradation. This is one reason few discovers their own greatness. Who would have wanted to improve oneself when personal decay promises the security of constant gratification?

In matters of relationships, instant gratification has done so much damage. One of its most powerful manifestations is our selfishness. In any forms of relationship—be it deep relationship like friendship and love, or institutional relationships like marriage, or social relationships like business and politics—we all secure our claim. We always want to be on the edge, it does not matter if our means will hurt somebody, so long as we are gratified by our ways. Consider marriage, it has been a sad fact of our present generation that most marriages end up in divorce. The common reason, which has become an institutionalized excuse, has been put glamorously by most divorced celebrities: irreconcilable differences. This is a slap in the vows of marriage. From what I understand, marriage is a test of character, it engenders growth for each couple, it is where the seed of understanding germinates, and it evolves each to be a better person. Unfortunately this takes the unwanted option of time.

Imagine how your life would be if you have allowed yourself the wisdom of delayed gratification? Perhaps you could have opted a better option, or have gotten a golden opportunity. Yet the past belongs to the past and the present will always provide an opportunity to make amends. Give yourself a chance to discover other possibilities. There is more for you out there and unless you are willing to let time do a little of its work, you will never be given the chance to chose among the infinite alternatives waiting for you.

“All good things come to he who waits”
–Proverbs


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P.S.

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70 Responses to “Pitfalls of instant gratification”

  1. Jonny says:

    Good topic Walter.

    There were some experiments don on children (not the bad type) that found that those of a young age that could defer and wait for greater gratification in hte future when dealing with something as simple as a marshmellow. Were 70% more likely to be successful later in life. WOrth keeping in mind.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Walter says:

      @Jonny – I’m familiar with that experiment, I have even watched it on Discovery channel and such simple experiment has a very huge impact on the future of those who are willing to wait. :-)

  2. Great post Walter.

    Patience builds power. Society wants everything now, not realizing that if they received everything they focused on life would be chaose.

    Sit back and watch your thoughts. In many people’s minds what they don’t want is the primary thinking pattern. Imagine getting exactly what you don’t want over the course of a day, let alone a week? Then throw in the things that you do want. Life would be a manifestation of hysteria.

    Be thankful for the buffer of time :) It allows one to become more focused, stronger, and better equipped to handle life’s ups and downs.

    • Walter says:

      @Ryan – People are not aware of their impatience, that’s the reason they pass on a good opportunities in life. Time has wisdom which we will never fully comprehend, but it is worth to trust. :-)

  3. CMcKane says:

    So true!

    I’ll admit to sneaking bites while cooking and then when it is time to eat- I’m full.

    The “me first” or “I want it now” attitude that seems to permeate society is one that anyone can easily fall into. With a little practice and patience you can change your thinking pattern to living a full life and like any good meal one that has all the ingredients ;)

    • Walter says:

      @CMcKane – Hello, I would also like to admit that I do take sneaking bites while cooking, but that was once in the past. It’s good to learn the art of waiting. :-)

  4. This is a great post and i will like to sum it up by saying “no pain no gain” instant gratification is natural but avoiding the spur of the moment on instant gratification could also be very painful, as there is a likely hood of avoiding an unknown future, only few people take this challenge and this is why we have few very successful people that will take the path of waiting which is painful

    • Walter says:

      @Ernest – Very true Ernest. No pain no gain and unless we understand this we will never know what success is. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :-)

  5. askcherlock says:

    Our society tends to nurture instant gratification, especially by targeting the young in advertisements. If we teach our children how to wait, and as Ryan said, to be patient, they will be better able to cope with life as they mature.

    • Walter says:

      @Askcherlock – Our young are living on precarious times, unless grownups teach them the right way of living, our future will be blight. :-)

  6. This is a great post and so true, I’m a supporter of teaching our children patience and to give in order to get…therefore I’m so supportive of all parents thinking about how we can all teach our children nothing is free and all things come in due time.
    Dorothy from grammology
    grammology.com

    • Walter says:

      @Dorothy – I believe that the discipline of waiting should be inculcated on our children. It will make a solid foundation for their growth. :-)

  7. Such an important reminder. In my line of work people often tell me they want it now, they can’t wait, or it will take too long. And they’re sometimes surprised when I ask them to think about how they cultivate their patience, because they’ve never considered that as an option. But it is, and even the most impatient among us (and I’ve been there myself) can build this muscle.

  8. Oleg Mokhov says:

    Hey Walter,

    We grow from difficulties, not from pleasant experiences and instant gratification.

    When something is pleasant, we enjoy it. But through difficulties we struggle and grow. Instant gratification means we get something right away, are happy, and that’s it. But through having to work for something, we develop our pain threshold, patience, character, and appreciation. We end up enjoying the reward even more and become stronger for future experiences.

    Just like working out: we only get stronger by lifting heavier weights, doing tougher workouts, pushing our body to the limit.

    Thanks for the reminder that instant gratification isn’t all that it seems, and that sometimes waiting for something is the better way,
    Oleg

    • Walter says:

      @Oleg – The rewards are truly great if we take the time to endure the pain of waiting. If we are to achieve personal growth, patience is an indispensable necessity.

      Thanks for sharing Oleg. :-)

  9. Mark says:

    Excellent post! Instant gratification stems from a mindset of something is missing and that if I can fill what is missing and do it quickly then I will be happy. For one who is authentic, who is aware, waiting is not an issue for that person is happy in the now with what they have and anything else they get is icing on the cake.

  10. Eric says:

    I saw something similar to what Jonny mentioned. It showed that most kids (like 4 or 5 year olds) could not pass up a smaller instant reward (like a single cookie) for a future larger reward (like several cookies.

    I think the biggest enabler of instant gratification in today’s society is the credit card. Many people just don’t have the will power to wait, and end up going into mountains of debt. Winning financially requires delayed gratification.

    • Walter says:

      @Eric – Funny how can you know something about a person by the use of his credit card. Its’ so easy to use it yet we don’t know the responsibility of its appropriate use.

      Thanks Eric for sharing your thoughts. :-)

  11. It’s so funny that you posted about this. because i was thinking about hwo I always want things right at the moment.

    • Walter says:

      @Constructive – We can always go on with our choice, but we are the ones to suffer the consequences of our acts. Thank you for sharing with my blog. :-)

  12. Kelvin Kao says:

    Sometimes people want instant gratification, because they are not sure if delayed gratification is indeed down the line. I know I’ve also been there before. Little kids always want instant gratification, until their brains develop enough to make predictions about the future. Sometimes it’s the uncertainty that makes us not want to wait.

    • Walter says:

      @Kelvin – Uncertainty is a powerful hindrance for our capacity to wait. There are times when instant gratification works but it is not always a good practice. Thanks Kelvin for sharing your thoughts. :-)

  13. Hi Walter,

    I think because we live in a world where things happen so fast, we just have forgotten that patience is a virtue and that there is a time for every thing. Actually, so much of life boils down to timing. Things happen at the right time for the right reason. Yet we forget that and want everything now.

    • Walter says:

      @Nadia – The result of having forgetting the virtue of patience has slowly evolved in our ways. This is one of the misfortunes of our present time. :-)

  14. This “video game” culture has created an instant gratification generation. I’m guilty of it myself. However, there’s no reason not to balance the short-term wins with the long-term goals.

  15. Quilly says:

    Were you at our dinner table tonight? We just finished talking about this! My love is a scientist and is used to patience and waiting. I am a school teacher and am used to patience and waiting. We still cook our food and rarely ever use the microwave. We are dinosaurs in this do-it-now world.

  16. I think you nailed it. Too often nowadays we act as if we’re children, wanting things instantly. And it never works.
    And thanks for your visit to my blog.

  17. first of all, very well written post. unfortunately delayed gratification requires patience and that is just one quality I lack!

  18. You have a very unique blog with very interesting posts. I agree we are a very impatient species… Thank you for visiting my blog…

  19. Ms. Freeman says:

    I’m a “I want it now and I want more than my share” sort of personality. But, I also have a good handle on waiting for the right moment.

    This is s good post describing the way many of us live our lives and the detrimental effects.

    • Walter says:

      @Ms. Freeman – Nobody’s perfect and we all have our weaknesses. The important thing though is we do something about it.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :-)

  20. kathryn says:

    I try. Heaven knows, I try…but it’s so HARD to wait! It’s also hard to teach our children to wait for things…they are REALLY used to getting things right away, with the internet and all.

    Thanks for the comment at my place!

  21. Rose says:

    I’ve always been a believer that good things come to those who wait.

  22. Evita says:

    Hi Walter

    Very, very good post! I have to say, I consider myself to be a pretty patient person and if given the choice to have say 3 things that I want all at once, I would actually prefer to get one and wait some time for the other one, and then so on for the third.

    I have found this way to be more meaningful for me, to really appreciate what I get, when I get it. Take a child for example who gets 3 toys – they can only play with one at a time – so the appreciation for the other two can decrease.

    What I am ultimately saying is I don’t mind delayed gratification – why not have many amazing and special moments as time goes on, instead of getting everything now.

    As for marriage my take on it is a little different. I don’t think people should “suffer” with each other if they are not adding to each other’s growth or happiness. I think the problem starts in the selection process. Many of us choose our spouses from our egos, and not our souls/spirits/higher selves. I only feel this way as I know there do exist relationships that are “perfect” and ones which do not require “work” but are based on growth and enjoyment of life together. But again, it all starts at the selection process. Many of us as you say want instant gratification and hence pick someone fast, rather than allow time to find that really compatible person.

    • Walter says:

      @Evita – I understand your perspective and I agree that we should grab special moments when it comes; every rule has always an exemption. Pertaining to marriage, I believe that suffering has its limits, we don;t have to stick to it if it destroys us. Thank you for your enlightenment and wisdom. :-)

  23. It really does take grit and determination, doesn’t it to make your dreams happen? And it’s such a sweet sweet feeling to have stuck it out, nothing feels much better than the reward of working hard.

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  25. Wow, Walter. I’m totally blown away. You’re brilliant, just brilliant. This post really hits home. There are too many insights to respond to, but I do want to say how much I appreciated this one… “Since we don’t like discomfort, we prefer the instant gratification of being ensconced in our familiar self—irrespective of our shortcomings, irrespective of our ignorance and irrespective of our need for change. The consequence of this foolishness is our slow and oftentimes painful degradation.”

    You’ve got a new subscriber!
    .-= Heather Kephart´s last blog ..Writing Down the Bones =-.

    • Walter says:

      @Heather – Thank you very much Heather, I happy knowing you’ve appreciated my thoughts about life. Very inspiring. :-)

  26. I agree very much about how instant gratification affects our perception of marriage. I just read that for most couples it takes nearly 10 years to build a solid marriage. From my own marriage I would say this is close, or at least around 8 years to get to the point where the work of a marriage gets easier and you have a better handle on what you need to do to keep it strong.

    I’ve known wonderful couples that have let their marriages go so early on, if they had persevered I think they could have survived for the long haul.
    .-= Advice Maven -Tina T´s last blog ..What is the Appeal of the Bad Boy? =-.

    • Walter says:

      @Tina – Marriage is a test of patience. For couples to understand each other, time is needed. It is the only way I know to preserve and grow in marriage. :-)

  27. Rocky Garcia says:

    @ Tina – Congratulations to you for having that solid marriage for 8 years. Nowadays, 8 years of marriage is a rare thing that is hard to achieve.

    @ Walter – You have a very good insight Walter! More power!
    .-= Rocky Garcia´s last blog ..Cool FarmVille Prints =-.

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  29. Krishna says:

    Hi Walter,

    This is a great post. So true that good things come to those who persevere and wait for the best results.

    Many of the issues today can be traced to this wish for instant gratification. Starting with Obesity and going on…. If only we mixed our passion and desire with a wee bit of patience!

    Cheers,
    Krishna
    .-= Krishna´s last blog ..Believe your way to Success =-.

  30. Jim Hardin says:

    At one of my jobs that I had my mentor taught me something that I will never forget. He asked me what motivates me. Is it money or what is it? In a basic sense he said focus on your career, your goals, and your career and the money will come. Success isn’t money it is achieving your goals and passion in life. The money will follow. This can hold true for blogging. Some people are looking for that instant gratification. They are looking for the overnight windfall of money. I think if you just focus on good content and help people and enjoy what you are doing good things will come.

    • Walter says:

      @Jim – The principles you have shared here is what I’m following. I do believe that if we make the best in everything we do, material reward is inevitable. Some people are not aware of this wisdom though. :-)

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  32. Des says:

    A great post Walter, this connects in so many ways to the changes I’m trying to effect in my own life at the moment.

    On the subject of marriage, I’m proud to say that I’m twenty six years into my marriage now. It will never last though, because everyone said we were too young when we started out :wink: .-= Des´s last blog ..Affiliate Progress Report – 6th Nov 09 =-.

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  40. Jayne says:

    Great article. Beleive me when I say that I see this in action ALL THE TIME. I teach at a community college, and often students will walk away from the classroom into what they perceive to be an opportunity for making more money. They want all the goodies right now and just can’t seem to understand that if they tough it out and persevere, then they’ll ultimately have more of the good stuff.
    .-= Jayne´s last blog ..A Closer Walk =-.

  41. Walter, first thank you for your comment on my blog, I really appreciate that! This blogpost speaks the truth and I’ve already experienced it many times in life! What’s the reason for the americans weight problem? surely their need for instant gratification. You feel bad? Eat something and you’ll feel better while eating it!

    But they ignore that after eating that burger your sad feelings may return and very often they do even larger, now allying with the feeling of guilt.

    On the other side that people could think about doing some sport. In short it will bring them only pain and no pleasure (mostly if they are overweight), but after doing the workout their body would release endorphins and they would feel happy! In addition their minds would start spinning, because they did something GOOD for themselves and they may feel even proud.

    Now compare feeling satisfied for about 15minutes to feeling good, happy and proud about themselves for many hours?

    If people would see this – and what you’ve written here – this world would be more different! :) .-= Michael Michalowski´s last blog ..First Step – Different Step =-.

  42. Steve says:

    I agree that the meaning of our life is gratification, but still we have to find out several others point to which we should stick.

  43. Silverfih says:

    I know what you mean. If you got instant gratification and never had to work for anything, then there would be no value associated with the items you were proud of. For example, if you went to a casino and won big one time, then that would be more gratifying than if you never lost at a casino.

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