Last month, the first survey at the newly created EEB4 Instagram account was launched. In this poll, we asked a simple would you rather question from which you could choose 1. Work on your assignment due next week or 2. Spend your afternoon hanging out with friends. The results from this poll were no surprise, with the clear majority of 88% voting for the second option and the very few 12% voting for the first one. The key factor for these results is the concept which most of you have already heard of before “instant gratification”. 

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What is instant gratification? 

Simply defined, instant gratification is the decision to take an action which would benefit you the most right now, in the present moment. This is a natural human principle that has permitted the human race to survive. When facing life-threatening scenarios, being chased by a predator for example, the human being has developed this principle of seeking the most beneficial instant action which often seems to outweigh the long-term consequences in that case.  

Nowadays, instant gratification is seen in situations such as the one from the survey. On one hand, we have the ones who chose the first option which represents delayed gratification. On the other, with the majority we have the second option representing the act of seeking instant gratification. Clearly, most people prefer spending their time out doing something they enjoy such as hanging out with friends, rather than working on an assignment which seems to be less fun, according to the survey.  

There’s nothing wrong with instant gratification, as long as it is in balance with delayed gratification. To our generation, it is more accessible now than ever before. With the use of smartphones in our everyday life, we’re only one click away from getting that temporary pleasure of instant gratification. 

Finding the balance 

Many of us find ourselves scrolling through social media, unable to stop because as soon as we do, we stop getting gratification. When we accomplish something, we get a feeling of gratification, ‘feel-good’ hormones are released in our brain such as the well-known dopamine. Therefore, many people end up seeking instant gratification because it is way easier to access than delayed gratification. This disrupts the balance we have in our lives, making us less productive and more likely to procrastinate.  

So how can we find a balance? It has been proven that delaying gratification actually gives us more dopamine and ends up making us feel better compared to the instant feeling. Not only does delaying gratification help us be more productive, it also builds discipline. 

Some people prefer to slowly adapt to their new lifestyle with small steps towards reaching their goals in finding their balance while others take a more extreme approach such as the “dopamine detox” method. This method is pretty straightforward, it consists of waking up on the next day and restricting any type of dopamine source you can think of during your day. Such actions include resisting urges like checking your social media, snacking on unhealthy food, oversleeping and procrastinating. 

The overall aim of this method is to start enjoying the little things in life. By restricting yourself from the dopamine sources you were used to, you’ll start enjoy things you didn’t before. For instance, you might find something you used to think was boring to actually be enjoyable now. Take it as a challenge, just try it for a week. All it takes is some patience and you’ll unlock a new way of seeing the world. 

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