How to Overcome the Problem of Immediate Gratification

“Without delayed gratification, there is no patience.” 
Sunday Adelaja (Tweet This)

There’s a PIG in the room.

A PIG is the Problem of Immediate Gratification that has become so prevalent in today’s society. Immediate gratification means that immediate reward is perceived to be better than long-term reward. We tend to choose smaller, immediate rewards over larger, future rewards. Sometimes, this is not a problem. But in other cases, you’re better off training yourself to wait for a bigger payoff by denying yourself right now.

Immediate gratification can have serious consequences. Being impulsive can lead to poor decision-making that results in long-term problems. Smoking, overeating, saying “yes” when you need to say “no,” talking yourself out of exercise, and excessive TV-watching are only a few examples of giving in to impulses that have long-term negative consequences.

The immediate gratification outweighs long-term consequences. So, when we indulge in self-defeating immediate gratification, we end up burdened with guilt and low self-esteem.

So why are some people less prone to giving in to immediate urges? Why do some people have the discipline to wait for better outcomes, while others routinely choose the “I want it now” button? Research into human behavior points to different brain activity and outlook on life. People who choose immediate rewards are the “carpe diem” (seize the day) types; those who can wait are of the “good things come to those who wait” inclination.

In both cases, the reward causes a surge in feel-good chemicals in the brain, including dopamine. People who are more patient show an increase in activity in their anterior prefrontal cortex — an area of the brain that helps imagine the future. That means that patient people are better are imagining rewards. Specifically, the more massive reward they will receive if they wait.

What’s interesting is that the future is often vague and unpredictable. While you might imagine that you’ll receive, say, $100,000 if you wait until the market is good to sell your home, that return isn’t guaranteed. That’s why many people will choose a smaller yet immediate and guaranteed reward — for example: a profit of only $25,000 if they sell their home now. That uncertainty makes the future less appealing than immediate gratification.

Yet, patient people are able to vividly imagine the future. They’re also more apt to accept the outcome, even if things don’t turn out as they predicted. They are less attached to the outcome than those who want it “now.”

So how can you become better at disciplining yourself to avoid self-defeating, feel-good activities like skipping a workout, indulging in junk food, spending the evening channel-surfing, or lighting up that cigarette?

You can overcome impulsive behavior and look to long-term benefits! Don’t be a PIG!

Secrets to Overcoming the Problem of Immediate Gratification

1. Use Your Imagination!

If you find yourself making decisions that meet immediate desires, but at the expense of your health and well-being, then activate your third eye chakra. Make sure your third eye is open and gives you the ability to see the big picture, like tomorrow’s consequences of today’s actions.

Whenever you’re tempted to go for quick satisfaction at the expense of long-term benefits, pause and ask yourself if it’s worth it now. Visualize yourself in your ideal situation, feeling great. Remind yourself that there are usually healthy and beneficial alternatives to most indulgences.

Also, make sure your solar plexus chakra is healthy so that you don’t engage in self-defeating activities because you don’t feel good about yourself.

2. Slightly Delay Your Gratification

Practice making small steps. Delay the gratification by a short increment, say 10–15 minutes. Go ahead and have that cigarette, but make yourself wait for 10–15 minutes. In the meantime, do something healthy and self-serving that also feels good. Or, indulge in fast food, but not at the first fast food restaurant you drive by (the one that sparks the desire). Make yourself drive to the next one. As you get used to that 10–15 minute delay, increase it in small increments of 5–10 minutes.

3. Clear Your Chakras

You might not feel strong enough to overcome your urges if certain chakras are blocked. This is especially true for the solar plexus — the seat of your personal power and self-esteem — and the heart chakra (love and self-love).

If your third eye chakra is blocked, you may fail to see the big picture. The consequences of innocent, little actions like, “Oh, just one more donut! I’ll start my diet tomorrow,” will seem fine. Everyday, tell yourself, “I love you,” and be your own cheerleader. Talk to yourself about the things you have achieved.

Increasing your self-love and improving your self-esteem will guide you to the bigger picture. The third eye will make that big picture clear as day.

By increasing the time between stimulus and response and by clearing essential chakras, you can train yourself to be more patient. You can learn to avoid giving in to unhealthy temptations.

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