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Instant Gratification

When we can't get what we want, we can experience discomfort. Maybe we start saying something hurtful, or we might overindulge in our favorite dessert. Continuing my thoughts from my last post, "Do you scratch that itch?" I realized that there is a direct correlation between immediate gratification and the actions we take.

Look at the image below. You can see the beautiful weather in the distance. What you can't ultimately see is the snow cloud coming in from the left that surprised us during a hike in late March. It was one of those moments where you couldn't see it coming. It started with a lovely Spring day, when midway heading up to the peak, a snowstorm came through. Lucky for us, we had hats and gloves with us and love the snow. It was probably another 30 minutes later, it was all gone, and the image from the last post represented the end of our hike.

This experience and observing an itch have a lot in common. Before I discuss the commonality they have, I want to point out that we are mainly focused on the outcome of something, be it in your job, your chorus, planned travels, and even approaching a day. What this leads us to is missing out on what happens between them during the process. Mindfulness plays a considerable role in the awareness of instant gratification and how we begin to enjoy the journey of activity and the end product. This also tells me that our primary motivation is what is happening outside of us and how we can get external satisfaction. When it actually happens inside of us. So, this thought process might be a stretch, so let me come back to how a snowstorm and an itch share similar features.

In life, and probably a couple of times a day, we have brief moments of discomfort. An unexpected snowstorm and an itch can be unpleasant. What instant gratification without awareness does is just fix and remove the distress we experience. When we bring mindfulness and paying attention to what is arising, we can't be anywhere else but here. Even if we scratch the itch or are disappointed about the snow and cold front coming in, we can experience what is happening within our bodies. We can increase the innate intelligence of what is bothering us and familiarize ourselves. By embracing the uncomfortable moments without immediately distracting ourselves, we can learn more about ourselves and see the itch as a friend and not an enemy.

To conclude, there is nothing wrong with instant gratification if we do it mindfully and with awareness. It will delay it, maybe just for a few seconds and maybe for 30 minutes. It is guaranteed that we will get relief from our discomfort. And when it's over, we have been present all along without missing out on life, and we acted with intention. How fulfilling could that be?

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