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Master This One Key Mental Concept You Need For Better Relationships, Work and Life.

Master This One Key Mental Concept You Need For Better Relationships, Work and Life.

A friend of mine shares a terrible habit with me: shopping addiction. When either of us are upset or stressed or just generally too overwhelmed to do anything, we turn to our favorite stores. Buying something new is an instant way to feel better. The satisfaction is this feeling of “yay, new stuff!” and it seems to temporarily replace all the bad stuff going on in our lives. But it’s short-lived gratification. After all, none of us are so wealthy that we don’t experience buyer’s remorse now and then.

The two of us had an “ah-ha!” moment when we were told our brains are coping with our mishandling of money by doing all that shopping. See, the money we are spending on quick fixes could have just as easily gone into savings or an investment account. But that doesn’t feel like a realistic goal. It’s so far away! It’s easy to understand instant-gratification-when I buy something, I have it in my hands immediately. I love that! How am I supposed to get excited about a large savings account if I won’t be able to see that it’s large for years?

Sound familiar? Probably so.

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Delay-gratification seems wholly dissatisfying at first. But if we could accept the concept and start living by it, imagine how much stress would melt off our shoulders. Money is relatable, but you can take it a step further, too. Think about your last bad relationship. Did you stay in it so you wouldn’t have to be alone? This happens all the time. It’s “easier” to stay in a relationship and know you have a partner than to be single and not know if you’ll wind up with someone.

Instant Gratification is Just pleasure, Not Happiness!

When I blow all my hard earned money so I can quickly feel better about my life, do I feel better? Sure, for about five minutes. Then I’m overwhelmed all over again and stressed about how much money I just spent!

And what about that bad relationship you stayed in. Were you happy? Of course not! So why do we settle for unhappiness just to avoid practicing patience? The root of the problem comes down to how badly we want to get everything we desire instantly. No waiting required. Personally, I can’t recall a switch being flipped in my brain that suddenly made me this way; I feel like I’ve always wanted instant gratification. With shopping, with success, with my love life…everything. But there are habits in my life that could be making things worse.

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Social Media Could Be Forcing You to Settle When It Comes to Happiness.

Unfortunately, your obsession with social media could be partially to blame for instant gratification over happiness.

“We gain instant feedback from our devices, because we’re constantly plugged in and turned on. Social media gives us the ability to upload videos, photos and status updates…Because our devices are ubiquitous, our connectedness is constant. There’s very little patience required. We even expect business growth — phenomenon long considered to be gradual — to happen overnight. Like the viral explosion of a YouTube video, we want to hack business growth for viral expansion. The pursuit is admirable, even if the results aren’t always what we desire” – Neil Patel [1].

How To Sustain Your Motives To Wait?

1. Be more aware to your actions

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The next time you find yourself habitually reaching for your phone to scroll through Facebook or see how many new likes you have on Instagram, stop and take a breath. If you’re a visual person, keep a tally sheet and mark a line for every time you resist an urge [2].

2. Feeling uncomfortable is just temporary

When you find yourself seeking that instant fix, count to ten and try to understand why you’re so anxious to get something done instantly. Maybe you won’t know at first. That’s okay. But maybe you will realize you just feel uncomfortable without something to do or focus on.

3. How would you feel 10 minutes after taking actions?

You know when you’re binge-watching Netflix and realize you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or sweets? You weren’t even hungry, and yet you ate all that junk while your brain was on auto-pilot. Practice some presence today and every day. Do things in a way of awareness and thoughtfulness.

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4. Be patient with your own progress

Guess what – you didn’t develop the need for instant gratification overnight. So why in the world would you expect to break that habit overnight? You won’t and it’s okay! When you give in to that disappointing instant-gratification over delay-gratification, allow yourself to be disappointed in yourself and frustrated. Then make a conscious effort to do better.

5. You don’t ALWAYS need to be too hard on yourself!

If you would be truly happy by giving in to the instant-gratification like urge of eating a donut, awesome-do it! But if you know you would feel guilt afterward, opt for something else. Either way, applaud your conscious effort and realize how nice it feels to do something for happiness and not just the need to get something done quickly.

How delaying your enjoyments can benefits different parts of our lives?

Whether you realize it or not, your day-to-day actions are filled with choices made in an effort to achieve instant-gratification. We don’t have to wait to travel anymore thanks to Uber. We don’t have to worry about stopping what we’re doing to get food thanks to UberEats, PostMates, Seamless, etc. We don’t even have to get groceries ourselves anymore with grocery stores delivering or third party services like InstaCart.

So why would we expect our brain or heart to function any differently? We expect everything to happen instantly, and often without much effort. Yet even with this happens, we feel unfulfilled with the results. We are so disconnected with our own selves that we have trouble recognizing when we are settling vs. when we are ready to try delay gratification. Imagine how incredible it would be (for yourself, for your relationships, for your career) if you could make choices based on long-term happiness and satisfaction and not just instant-gratification and a quick-fix.

  • Work: When you make professional choices for instant gratification, you often wind up cutting corners and making more work for yourself in the long run. In order to achieve less procrastination, more willingness to practice and do hard work, you have to master delay-gratification and know that even though it may not be until the end of your business quarter, you’re going to be so proud of your success and accomplishments.
  • Relationships: It takes time to get to know a person before falling for them. While it may feel nice to accept a date from the first person who asks, imagine how much better it would feel to wait for a date with someone you truly have interest in. And if you’re already in a happy and committed relationship, practice awareness when it comes to communication. Sometimes it can feel like torture to sit down and talk about the other person’s day when you could be checking social media or sending out important emails, you’ll have a better relationship in the long run.
  • Health: This is an obvious for so many of us. Do we take the time to prep meals for a week and eat well and feel better, or do we rush through a fast food restaurant on our lunch break and grab an unhealthy meal in a short amount of time? If you practice delay-gratification with your food habits, you can have less binge eating and even a more passionate relationship with exercise and health.
  • Happiness: Do you ever feel like you have to work really hard to be happy? If you focus more on the last four points, you won’t have to put in that effort because the happiness will be an automatic result! You won’t have to chase for it, and you can feel it more deeply and in everyday life. You are less likely to become defeated because you know accumulated failure and lessons learned contribute to greater happiness later.

I don’t know about you, but life-long happiness sounds a lot better than a quick-fix. So what do you say? Are you ready to start delaying your gratification?

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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