You refresh your Facebook feed over and over again after posting a status, because you can’t wait to see what your friends think about your witty observation. You can’t wait to see what your friends think, because you desperately want them to approve your actions. Did they like it? Did they comment with an lol, Lol, or even LOL? Did they react with a big laugh or wow emoji? These are pressing matters that are TOTALLY worthy of your attention…
Except they’re not (that was sarcasm, just in case you missed it). You have much better things to be doing with your life besides getting approval from others instantly.
We’re all in this when it comes to seeking pleasure instantly. It’s our nature.
Approval addiction is the demand for approval. People who are addicted to approval feel rejected and get very defensive when others criticize them.
Instant gratification is the desire for pleasure without delay. Basically it means, when you want something, you want it right now.
Waiting is hard, waiting to get approval is harder. Our brains are wired to instant gratification because it used to be our basic survival instinct in the ancient times. In the past, when we felt hungry and wanted to eat, we had to go out to kill some animals for food. We simply couldn’t wait.
In most psychological models, humans are believed to act upon the “pleasure principle.” The pleasure principle is basically the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. These needs, wants, and urges can be as basic as the need to breathe, eat, or drink.
Approval addiction and instant gratification are intimately connected. When approval addiction and instant gratification go together, it’ll be like wanting the pleasure of approval immediately and continuously. But this is really bad for us.
Giving in to instant approval is giving up our promising future — our long-term good.
Getting instant pleasure may comfort us immediately, but we will be missing things that are actually better in the long-run.
For example, when you check your Facebook or Instagram every few minutes just to know how other react to your posts, you miss out all the times that you can have spent on doing something a lot more meaningful, say being with your close friends or your family, or your hobbies.
Or if you’re spending money on a new luxury watch just to put it on the social media to show it off to others, you’re wasting your time and money to do what doesn’t really matter to you, but to others (as you believe).
To ditch instant approval, tune your pace of life.
Even though we’re all wired to instant gratification, we can get over it by making some small changes in life. Practice doing these small things every day will help you take back control of your life.
1. Stop leaving your ringer on.
My phone’s default setting is “silent.” It would be really hard to concentrate on writing articles like this if I was interrupted by a BUZZ or RING every few minutes (also, I think I might have ADD, but that’s a whole other story).
Turn your ringer off. Put your phone away in a pocket, purse, or drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
You have important work to do. Don’t feel bad about it. No one has the right to expect an immediate reply. It can wait.
2. Stop thinking you don’t have a problem.
I’ll be the first person to admit it: I used to be obsessed with social media, and it’s still a temptation I have to look out for. Here are some specific examples. Tell me if they sound familiar.
Instead of actively listening to my family during a holiday meal, I let my attention waiver to the activity of my Facebook feed. Instead of fully appreciating a peaceful nature walk with my dog, I got caught up in trying to capture the “perfect picture.” Instead of contributing to a conversation with a friend at the bar, I got distracted by a heated debate about a news article on Twitter.
And that brings us to…
3. Stop bringing your phone everywhere.
Get in the habit of leaving your phone at home when you go to work, the gym, grocery store, or out with friends. I bet you’ll start to notice little things that have escaped your attention.
Only take your phone with you if you’re expecting an important call or traveling a long distance. You might be worried about what you would do in case of an “emergency.” But let’s be honest. When has that ever happened? Maybe once or twice if you’re really unlucky? If your car breaks down and you don’t have a phone, you might have to walk a couple miles to find someone who does.
You’ll be fine. Consider it an adventure!
4. Stop answering every call you receive.
Consider this scenario:
You get your electric bill in the mail. Typically, it runs about $50 at this time of year, but you owe $250 this month. Outraged, you call the power company to complain. If you get a person on the phone, God help them, because you’re gonna let them know exactly how upset you are… but no such luck. They closed an hour ago. You have to leave a message. Aware that most voicemail boxes only give you 1-2 minutes to finish, you leave a succinct message with the relevant info they need. The next day, a customer service rep researches your account, and they call back to offer an explanation. Sounds a lot more productive than having a temper tantrum, doesn’t it?
Send all calls straight to voicemail. If it’s important, they will leave a message.
5. Stop being in such a hurry.
Go, go, go! That seems to be the motto of modern society. Everyone wants to get things done faster. Why not better?
You don’t give yourself enough time to get ready in the morning; with no time to eat breakfast, you rush to the car and drive like a maniac, pushing your gas pedal as hard as you can.
You don’t give yourself enough time to enjoy your meals; without paying attention to the taste or texture of your food, you eat like a ravenous dog, swallowing every bite as fast as you can.
And you don’t make time for exercise since you’re so “busy,” despite the irony that physical activity is scientifically proven to make you more productive. Making the time to take care of yourself requires planning and patience, traits that might be foreign to a person who is ruled by instant gratification.
Begin your healing process by making three tiny changes:
- Wake up 15 minutes early for the next week. Try to up it to 30 minutes the next one.
- Take an extra 5 minutes to eat every meal for the next week. Try to up it to 10 minutes the next one.
- Walk for 10 minutes during your lunch break every day for the next week. Try to up it to 20 minutes the next one.
In the morning, prepare oatmeal and/or scrambled eggs for breakfast (you could also find a podcast or audiobook to listen to on the way to work). During your meals, concentrate on chewing slowly (you could make it a fun game by trying to guess what ingredients are present in your food). During your walk, meditate about what you hope to accomplish with the rest of your day.
Slow down. Appreciate. Repeat.
Remember, we don’t need to have everything we want right away. We need to learn to slow down and appreciate the wait. Great things take time is not just a saying, it does mean something.
You have a whole lot more to enjoy in life than checking your social feeds. And there’s a lot of good stuff about yourself than just those likes from Facebook and Instagram.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
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