Freedom from instant gratification

Freedom from instant gratification

We live in a world that is so used to everything being accessible at the tips of our fingers. We live in the era of same-day shipping, dessert first and DoorDash, where everything we could ever want can be done for us. 

Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay. It’s like posting a photo on your Instagram or Facebook and continuously checking your phone to see how many likes the post gets. You long for instant gratification when you decide to hang out with your friends, making pancakes instead of studying for your midterms. Furthermore, instant gratification is there when you snooze your alarm in the morning for “just five more minutes.”

Instant gratification is everywhere, especially in the younger generations who have lived most of their lives with some sort of smart device being easily accessible in their homes. Whatever happened to dial-up and waiting for your brother to get off the computer so you could call your friend down the road?

The “waiting” factor is hard for most people, so not many people practice delayed gratification, which is one’s ability to put off something fun or exciting now in order to gain something more rewarding later. For example, studying for that midterm instead of hanging out with friends and then receiving a high score on the test. Another example is how most expectant parents choose to find out the sex of their unborn child before birth. 

I get it. Instant gratification is alluring, and it is so easy to cave in and take this path. Those who are a part of older generations truly are the example of well-practiced delayed gratification — at least most of the time. (My dad still buys chocolate shakes every now and then.)

To be happy in life, you have to save some for later. 

I am always busy — probably one of the busiest people on campus. I am the morning show host and program director at 91.1 The Globe, a goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, the supervisor of the Goshen College Phonathon, Coffman’s residence assistant (RA) and, on top of it all, a full-time college student. There are days when I wake up at 4:50 a.m., and I can’t wait to go back to sleep that night. At times, I find myself longing for the next event to be over. 

Of course, accomplishing all of my tasks for the day is the overarching goal, but I find that if I rush myself through every one of the day’s activities, I miss a lot of the small stuff.

I had this breakthrough realization last week when I went on a long bike ride before soccer practice. I was in downtown Goshen, heading back to campus, when a man outside one of the restaurants stopped me. He asked me if I was good at biking, and then he proceeded to tell me how he used to bike but he can’t at his age anymore. He shared some other life moments with me, just a college student on a bicycle, before he had to go. “Thanks for talking with me, miss. I appreciate it.”

Enjoying the current moment instead of rushing to the next is so important, because once you live it, you can’t go back. 

Two things I have always considered to be my strongest qualities are my determination and my work ethic. I never give up on anything. When soccer season ended last year in November, I was in the gym every day for three hours a day or more until soccer started again in August. I still don’t give up.

I used to struggle with the desire for instant gratification until Jason Samuel, communication professor at Goshen College, sat me down and told me that I am lacking in two other categories that should be prided as equal importance: gratitude and appreciation. These two words are very similar, but they form a unique pair when used together. Gratitude is the feeling of thankfulness and/or appreciation, whereas appreciation is the recognition or enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

I urge you to implement the use of gratitude and appreciation in your life. It’s OK for gratification to be delayed — actually, I would go as far to say that delayed gratification is preferred for me. Instant gratification does not promote strong work ethic or longevity within employment because if gratification isn’t immediate, people who dislike waiting will often “jump ship” or abandon their idea and try something else — something easier. 

The grass doesn’t have to be greener elsewhere. You can make your life whatever you choose to make it as long as you have the patience to wait for the delayed gratification.

And it’s worth it. 

Kadie Spoor
Kadie Spoor
Written by Kadie Spoor

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