Internet use is slowly eradicating patience; this joins the hordes of other problems that our technological dependency supposedly creates, such as mental stunting, a preoccupation with distraction, and severe social detachment.
In this brave new world of constant gratification, we’ll never have to wait for anything.
Do you want to read the book you just heard about? Order it on your Kindle and begin reading it in minutes.
Do you want to watch the film your office mates were talking about at lunchtime? When you get home, settle in on the sofa and stream Netflix.
Is it time for something new when it comes to books or movies? Simply start Tinder and swipe right until someone shows up at your door.
Although it may be alluring, we have been warned that instant gratification is destroying a fundamental human quality: the ability to wait.
The capability to wait is not virtuous in itself; rather, self-control is a virtue. Your ability to postpone gratification demonstrates how much self-regulation you possess.
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What does instant gratification mean?
Most simply, instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment.
When we seek instant gratification, we want what we want now, and we don’t want to wait. For example, if you’re feeling hungry, you might be tempted to eat whatever is convenient rather than wait to cook a healthy meal.
While the desire for instant gratification is certainly nothing new, it has become increasingly common and more socially acceptable in recent years.
In part, this is thanks to the internet and other technological advances that have made it easier than ever to get what we want when we want it. With just a few clicks, we can order takeout, buy a new outfit, or book a vacation.
This immediacy is also evident in our relationships.
In the past, people might have waited weeks or even months to hear back from a romantic interest. Today, we expect (and often demand) immediate responses to our texts, emails, and social media messages.
When it comes to dating, for example, the rise of apps like Tinder and Bumble has made it possible to meet someone new instantly.
And if you’re not interested in anyone you meet, you can simply move on to the next person with the swipe of a finger.
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What causes instant gratification?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the desire for instant gratification. It includes:
The way our brains are wired.
Research has shown that the part of the brain that is responsible for impulse control, known as the prefrontal cortex, develops more slowly than in other areas.
This can lead to impulsive decision-making and a preference for immediate rewards over delayed ones.
However, it should be noted that this is only a tendency and that many people are able to overcome it through practice and self-control.
The influence of social media.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are designed to be addictive and to keep us coming back for more.
They do this by releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward.
This can create a feedback loop in which we seek out instant gratification through social media use, which then leads to more social media use in search of the same feeling.
The culture of instant gratification.
In today’s society, we are bombarded with messages that tell us we can have whatever we want, and we can have it now.
From advertising to social media to our personal relationships, we are constantly surrounded by a culture of instant gratification.
This can make it difficult to resist the urge to seek immediate pleasure, even when we know it might not be in our best interests.
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How can instant gratification be harmful?
While there may be some benefits to seeking instant gratification, it can also be harmful in a number of ways. These include:
It can lead to impulsive decision-making.
When we make decisions based on immediate pleasure, we often don’t take the time to consider the long-term consequences. This can lead to regretted decisions, such as impulse buying, risky behavior, and substance abuse.
It can damage our relationships.
Our culture of instant gratification can also damage our personal relationships.
When we expect immediate responses to our texts, emails, and social media messages, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.
And when we’re always looking for the next best thing, we may have difficulty committing to and sustaining long-term relationships.
It can make us unhappy.
While instant gratification can provide a quick hit of pleasure, it’s often followed by feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, and even regret.
This is because the things we seek out for instant gratification often don’t provide the lasting happiness we’re looking for.
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How can we overcome the desire for instant gratification?
If you find yourself always seeking immediate pleasure, there are a few things you can do to try to overcome it. These include:
Practice delayed gratification.
One way to overcome the desire for instant gratification is to practice delayed gratification.
This means learning to resist the urge to seek immediate pleasure and instead waiting for a later time. This can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that the longer you wait, the greater the reward will be.
Focus on your long-term goals.
It can also be helpful to keep your long-term goals in mind when you’re tempted to seek instant gratification. When you’re thinking about the future, it can be easier to resist the urge to indulge in the present.
Take a break from social media.
If you find that you’re constantly seeking out instant gratification through social media, it may be helpful to take a break from it. This can be difficult, but it may help you to focus on other things and to find more sustainable sources of happiness.
Find other ways to cope.
If you’re struggling with the urge to seek instant gratification, it’s important to find other ways to cope with your emotions. This may include talking to a friend, going for a walk, or listening to music.
Instant gratification can be harmful in a number of ways, but there are also some things you can do to overcome the desire for it.
By practicing delayed gratification and focusing on your long-term goals, you can begin to resist the urge to seek immediate pleasure.
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It’s understandable to want things right away. In a world where we can have just about anything we want with the click of a button, it’s easy to get used to instant gratification.
However, this isn’t always a good thing. Constantly seeking immediate pleasure can lead to harmful impulsivity and make it difficult to achieve long-term goals.
While it can be difficult to resist the lure of instant gratification, it is possible to do so by making small changes in your behavior.
By setting aside money each month and keeping your long-term goals in mind, you can begin to overcome the urge to seek immediate pleasure.