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5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification

5 Ways to Get Over Approval Addiction and Instant Gratification

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.[1]

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).

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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.

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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?

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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.[2] 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.

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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

Reference

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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