The Instant Gratifiaton Trap and Why You Need to Escape It
In the modern society, especially among the youngsters, it is a very common value that enjoying your life as much as you can now, being happy now and “living your life to the fullest” now is something that everyone should do. There is nothing wrong with these values, however the ways we understand these phrases are significantly corrupt. To enjoy your life, to live it to the fullest and to be happy is many times connected to the actions that lie inside our comfort zones, or simply to the things that make us feel better. How come? Doesn’t living your life to the fullest mean growing as a person and reaching for your goals and dreams – working towards them every day? That is what it is meant to mean. But if you ask an average person why they go out drinking 2-3 times a week, spend money on alcohol and spend time, the most valuable commodity we all have, in clubs and then in bed trying to get rid of the hangover instead of reading books, exercising and growing every day, the answer will be – “This is what makes me happy, I want to live my life to the fullest.” My next question would be, what about you in the next 5-10 years? How do you want to live your life in the future and what are you doing for it? Most people are not able to answer. So what’s wrong about this and why am I bringing this up? What went wrong is, most people in our society live on something called “instant gratification,” which is essentially focusing on their short-term happiness and completely forgetting about the longer run.
This concept is something that is so engraved in the traditional way of thinking that it is almost a taboo talking about this. How come? This is because all the brands such as Mc’Donalds, KFC, Marlboro, Hennessy etc. are all based on this fundamental preference of many people. Let’s take the example of Marlboro. Marlboro is one of the most famous cigarette brands valued at 26.6B$ . Actually, we can take this a step further. The whole tobacco industry is based on instant gratification. What does that mean? It means that all their products are based on how they make you feel at the moment you use them. They make people feel good at that specific moment, but they make them feel terrible in the long run. So how come people still use these products even though they know they will feel awfully bad later on, maybe even die as a result of using these products? The answer is – instant gratification.
This is how most people think, this is how most people’s brains are programmed. They want to feel good now and forget about the future and the brands like the ones I mentioned realise this fact and use it to their advantage. This is the reason we’re dealing with a huge amount of lung cancer patients that wouldn’t have to be so desperate if they would’ve understood the concept of instant gratification and how dangerous it really is.
So what should we do about this? How do I escape the trap of instant gratification? To start with, as with everything we teach, you first need a strong reason, a strong why you want to escape this trap. Be it your health, be it your dreams and goals, you need to figure out something that can motivate you internally, because external motivation can only take you so far. But what really matters is why you want to do this. Once you have figured out a strong why you should be able to see why trading long-term happiness for instant happiness kills your dreams in the long run. It is immensely important to understand that what you really want is usually something that takes lots of work and more importantly lots of personal growth.
Delayed gratification is the understanding of the fact that you need to do the hard work now in order to live the life you want to live later. This doesn’t mean that your next 5 years will be full of suffering. It means that your next 5 years should be years of growth and self-development. You can still hang out with your friends, if that is something that you feel like will personally develop you and push you towards your goals. But if you want to become the superstar football player and you want to train tomorrow in the morning, if you friends ask you to go out tonight you can guess what the best answer is (hint – sorry, I’ve got some goals to hunt). The concept of delayed gratification allows you to understand that each decision you make now needs to be made for the greater benefit in the long run. This is something we spoke about in one of our recent posts. If you want to learn how to make successful decisions, definitely do give it a read.
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
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