Read time: 5 minutes
We live in an age of instant gratification, where we can get almost anything we want at the touch of a button. With smartphones in our pockets we have access to endless entertainment, information, and social connections – all with the click of a screen.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these modern conveniences, they can create a dangerous pattern of addiction and distraction. We find ourselves seeking something external in order to fill an internal desire whether it be hunger, connection, physical touch, etc.
When we indulge in instant gratification, we often do so at the expense of our long-term goals and desires. We may spend hours scrolling through social media or binge-watching, only to feel unfulfilled and empty afterwards. This can lead to a cycle of seeking out more and more instant gratification, as we try to fill the void in our lives.
So how do we break free from this pattern and learn to delay gratification? It starts with being present in the moment and learning to recognize the sensations that arise when we feel the urge for instant gratification. We must be willing to sit with these sensations, feeling them directly and allowing them to pass without giving in to them.
This process requires a great deal of self-awareness and discipline, as we learn to distinguish between genuine needs and momentary desires. We get to examine our long-term goals and desires and then make conscious choices that align with them, even if it means delaying gratification in the short term.
Delaying gratification can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s a skill that can be cultivated with practice.
As we build our self-discipline, we can create enough separation between the first impulse and true desire in order to honor our wants and needs without sacrificing our long-term goals.
Attention without feeling is only a report.
- Pause and check-in: Before acting on an impulse, pause and check-in with yourself. This is a process of transforming from the inside out. Let’s say your mind decides it wants a snack. Take a moment to locate that sensation in your body.
- Experience the sensation directly: Write about (or convey in a manner that works for you) the sensation without interpreting it or labeling it as good or bad. Where are you experiencing the sensation? Is it hot or cold? Is there a color associated with it? Be the observer of your experience.
- Resist the urge to label yourself or the experience: Instead of saying “I shouldn’t be hungry. I just ate. Why do I want ice cream?” let yourself be neutral with your experience. Your feelings are not positive or negative. Become the watcher of your experience and feel from within what it’s like to be you.
- Assess and take action: Now that you have become fully present with the sensation, ask yourself what you truly want and need? Maybe you initially wanted a snack and after getting curious with yourself have felt you weren’t actually hungry. Or maybe your hunger persisted in which case go for it! This isn’t about not allowing yourself something you want, but rather being curious about whether it’s a true desire or a way to get a hit of dopamine.
Some self-inquiries to consider:
- What triggers my desire for instant gratification?
- How does acting on my impulses affect my overall well-being and long-term goals?
Remember, my friends, the pursuit of instant gratification can often lead us down a path of unfulfillment and even addiction. By practicing mindfulness and building our ability to delay gratification, we can cultivate a sense of self-control and lead a more fulfilling life.