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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 August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

Reference

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