Control Your Desire For Instant Gratification
September 27, 2020
“When will you get to your Music Practice?” I asked my son this evening as I noticed him spending almost an hour watching something on his laptop.
“I am just watching this episode of Flash. As soon as I am done watching this episode, I’ll go complete some homework, after which I will come and practice my music,” responded my son.
Watching that episode of some Tele serial was more critical for my son than the prospect of practicing music.
There is an interesting definition of Discipline I came across recently.
“Discipline is the mindset of being comfortable with delayed gratification.”
Watching that episode of Flash was instant gratification for my son. That TV Show was following a storyline, and he needed to know what would happen in that particular episode. The instant gratification was in “knowing” what happens in that episode. On the other hand, there is no sort of gratification when it comes to the ongoing music practice.
Not giving into this desire for instant gratification is Discipline.
We see this pattern of instant gratification playing up in multiple ways.
- You have set the alarm to wake up at 6 am and go for a walk. But, you want to continue sleeping because your body desires it. Sleep is Instant Gratification at that point. However, you also feel good every time you go for a walk. Seeking out that “feel good” can be the gratification that excites you to get out of the bed in the morning.
- You have to prepare for an exam that is two months away. Putting in 2 hours of focussed study every day, two months ahead of the exam has no instant benefit. However, going into the exam tomorrow, you are willing to spend 14 hours studying because the possibility of writing the exam well is the instant gratification for your effort.
- Procrastination of any sort is also rooted in this desire for immediate gratification. We put off doing anything that has no immediate impact. For e.g. Filing my tax returns 45 days ahead of time feels pointless- there is no deadline ahead of me to give me the kick of instant gratification. Hustling to file my Tax return an hour before the deadline gives me the rush of instant gratification !!
If you can tweak your feelings to seek out instant gratification in anything that requires Discipline, you will become better at execution.
Working out- I can eat good food without feeling guilty.
Sitting in Meditation- I am just relaxing.
Completing a boring but necessary task- I will have one less item in my To-Do list.
Not giving in to distractions- I just kicked the distraction’s ass, I am a winner.
Discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it.
The desire for instant gratification always controls your feelings. Find reasons for instant gratification in the stuff you know is essential and should not be postponed. It’s a nice way to trick your feelings into being under your control.
Abe Lincoln said this- “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” – How true !!