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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 October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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