Does everyone know the word “instant gratification”? It means “immediate pleasure”. It means when you want something, you can have it or feel it instantly, and I believe this is harming our society.
Let’s look at examples of instant gratification. We live in the society with advanced technology and civilization, instant gratification is everywhere.
Let’s say you are hungry or thirsty. You go to a convenience store that’s three minute walk from your home and you can get food and drinks. If you want to suddenly start working out and exercise at home or play a new hit video game because of the COVID-19 situation, you can order them on Internet and have them delivered on the same day or the next the latest. If you are talking with your friends about music and suddenly there’s a song playing in your head, and can’t remember what band was singing it, and nobody around you can remember either, you can search it and find it on Internet. If you want a sense of accomplishment, to be recognized, get praised for what you do, or be “liked” by people, post a picture on a social media, then you can get some likes.
These are shortcuts to gratification that were developed and expanded over the past 10 years, and these shortcuts will result in serious damage. Almost everything is so easily accessible that people are losing patience and losing grid and persistence which are the most important element of life if you want to succeed in something or get what you truly desire for your life.
Here are a few examples.
A former colleague of mine, who was around 25 at that time, left the company we were working together saying he wants to work in the fashion industry. He was very passionate about fashion, so we all supported his decision. About a year later, when I saw him, he was no longer working at a new company he joined. He said the reason why he left was that he didn’t like the manager he was working for. He also said that he didn’t really like how the fashion industry actually worked, which is something he found out after he joined the industry.
I’ve also recently met a guy, who is again around mid-twenties, and his aspiration is to become a successful musician. He has a regular, non music related, full-time job to pay the bill, and he has been involved in some important music scenes quite often. However, he is determined that he would only pursue his music career until he is 28.
Another great story is this article I read in a famous career trainer’s blog. It happened at one of the Fortune 500 companies. There was a new grad who joined the company. He came from a very renowned school and he is smart and bright, so his expectations from the company and this career trainer were pretty high. After three months, he came to a HR manager, and said he is thinking about quitting. The HR manager asked why. “I’m not making an impact on the company” he said.
How can you expect a great deal of success after such a short period of time? What seems to be the problem, especially for the younger generation, is that they tend to give up easily before they even put sufficient amount of time and effort. This is the serious damage caused by instant gratification. This is because of the lack of the grid. I dare say it’s a new genre of mental illness.
So how can we solve this? How can we teach the younger generation the concept of “delayed pleasure” as opposed to “instant gratification”?
Jesse Weinberger, an Internet Safety expert, talked about how we can tackle this issue in her TED talk back in 2014. She said the key is “deliberate practice”.
Deliberate practice is NOT learning how to play a simple song on your piano from the beginning to the end. Deliberate practice is NOT going out and playing 18 holes of golf. Deliberate practice is picking a difficult part of a song – a part that you are tripping over, and just playing that part 4,000 times in a row. Deliberate practice is picking a portion of your golf swing that’s not working well, and repeating just that over and over again to improve it. This practice enables people to realize the importance of accepting new, difficult challenges and succeeding in them after countless failures. This teaches the value of failure and the fact that’s the only way for us to grow and improve.
I’m sure the technology will keep getting better, and make our world more and more convenient. There’s no deny in that. We just have to be aware that there is a danger in it. We are creating a world where everything is easy when we have to teach our children that nothing in life is ever easy.