Instant gratification is something most people my age and older like to place on younger generations. The millennials and younger. The children we are raising now. Because they have always had technology at their finger tips. Choices upon choices of toys, shows, events to keep them occupied and content. Moments of deep concern in my parenting has kept me a wake a time or two on this for my sons. How do I teach them about patience, perseverance, and true joy in the wait when everything is right at their finger tips? How do I teach them that hard work (physical and mental), discipline, and self control, are traits that they need to have to find true happiness and fulfillment in their lives?
Yet here I am waiting on my free 2 day shipping to come even faster, ready to move onto the next right swipe, and wondering why I haven’t lost more weight with my irregular workouts? Oh that’s right. Because I am right in the midst of the instant gratification. I don’t want to wait anymore. I want things to happen for me right now, when I want them.
This morning I was tempted to get right back on my snazzy dating app and keep on swiping. Find that instant connection to feed my somewhat sore heart. I was willing to feed my ego and insecurities by someone else’s attention. I ate more than I should at brunch, did a little afternoon shopping when I really didn’t need anything, and skipped church all together. I turned to things, inanimate objects, and (almost) a handsome face to make me feel good and happy. But it isn’t real. It fizzles out pretty quickly. Making me feel a little more empty. Making me question what to do next. Because with instant gratification, a person is constantly moving from thing to thing, person to person, or feeling to feeling in life.
As a society, once we get bored, find the going is getting tough, or waiting is mandatory, we frantically move on to the next quick and easy thing to make us feel good. In ALL aspects of our lives. Work, relationships, parenthood, friendships, faith, money, health.
I am guilty of this. Maybe even more so now since my divorce. If something isn’t going MY way now it is very easy for me to say then their loss and move on to the next best thing. The next guy on deck. The next quick diet fad. The next Bible passage that suits me more.
I see it everyday. People asking and seeking answers. “When will my baby start sleeping more? When does this hard time in marriage get easier? When will the pain start to fade? When does the financial struggles lessen their tight hold? When does something good happen to me? When will my child be angry less or more like their sibling? When will my health be good and not constantly under attack? When, how, and what can we do to make it go our way?
Our way. Your way. My way. We are a culture immersed with feeling good. We do not want to be unhappy, sick, hurting. Little to no effort given in making these things possible is also a must. We blame the younger generations for all of this but as a whole, we are all to blame. It is so easy to get caught up in an effortless fix, quicker results, and short term pleasures.
I almost did that today. I started to get caught up in that short term pleasure to ease my hurts. But the unsteadiness and discontent is still underneath. Right before I started writing I was venting to a friend. God’s plan and timing kept coming up. The belief in what He has in store. Faith in this journey and the end results. In my head I was thinking well God needs to work a little quicker, a little better, and a little more to my liking. In my heart, I know that I need to spend a little more time focused on Him and His words rather than my next swipe and Amazon purchase.
Because sometimes I get so caught up in everything that the world and society is telling me rather than what God is saying. It is a hard to swallow; however, He grants me mercy when I fall to my knees in prayer.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalms 37:7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6
So to answer my own question, how do I teach my children that instant gratification limits them to true fulfillment and happiness? By being the example for them. By guiding them to God and His son Jesus. By recognizing it within myself. By working on my patience, self control, and discipline. By becoming the person I write about.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37: 3-4
4 thoughts on “The emptiness of instant gratification”
Oh man, this is sooooo hard, but sooo necessary, I think. It’s crazy how it seems like we’re born with this intense desire. I see it in my toddler son who wants what he wants, NOW. I guess as we grow, it manifests sort of differently, but the behavior is there. I’m starting to realize now more than ever my responsibility and role with this in teaching my son. Love this, Katie!
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So hard. Ironic that I am trying to teach my children something but I wasn’t practicing what I was teaching.
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“By becoming the person I write about.” ~ Writers write to themselves first, to others second. I love the wisdom throughout here, Katie, but especially the bit you ended with.
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I almost didn’t put that last line in. For some reason I typed it but didn’t really think about it. Yet, it is very true. I want to BE the woman I write about.