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Instant gratification can be problems

[ 0 ] January 21, 2011 |

Today and most everyday there is an abundance of news and recent articles about the latest weight loss plan or beauty secret. We are constantly bombarded by information telling us how to live our lives better, but have we improved? I am not sure. Reading the latest research I find we are more overweight, depressed, anxious, and use more compulsive behavior now than ever before. What is going? If we have more information (which is all free by the way) and can potentially help ourselves now more than ever before, why are we getting worse or suffering more now than we were 50 to 60 years ago?

I believe there are a variety of factors which come into play but there are some basics of human nature, which are by in large responsible for “doing what we do.” In any given situation our brains seek out the easiest and fastest way possible to feel good. Such is our nature and we can understand why Mr. X- goes home to a double scotch instead of discussing with his wife how they can improve their relationship. Certainly this is a simple situation but it is extraordinarily common and Mr. X is carrying on with out a thought. I know you may be thinking, “hey Jodean everyone knows they should discuss what is going on with their partner, we don’t need you.” I am aware of this, nonetheless, my question would be, “OK, why is Mr. X an alcoholic instead of enjoying a life long happy and fulfilled relationship with his spouse?” Do you know why? I do! Mr. X is going for the “total instant gratification” every single time.

If we think about this for just a minute, things that are instantly satisfying are usually not good for us, but we love them because they make us feel good, they are FAST and super easy. Why wouldn’t we want to go for the instant gains? Let’s look at some of the things that instantly change our state of mind: smoking, fast food, sweets or high sugars, drinking, drugs, flopping on the couch after a long day, and zoning out in front of the TV. We could reasonably say none or almost none of these things are good for us. By contrast the list of things that take some work are things most people do not engage in like consistent exercise, careful meal preparation with attention to nutrition, taking 1 or 2 hours per week to talk with our family members to discuss roles and conflicts, or trying new relaxation techniques or other calming exercise.

Sometimes the most simple things get over looked. I am often asked why I eat a salad everyday, why I go to the gym 6 days per week or why I read the latest articles about self improvement, there is a super simple easy answer to all of those questions – those things make me feel good. These activities have become my pattern, which makes it super easy for me to stick with it. I understand you may be busy, or have a difficult work schedule and I do as well, however, there is still time to take care of yourself. Honestly, you have more time to make a healthy snack or have a healthy “time out” than you think.

Instead of the 15 minutes wait in the fast food line, take that 15 minutes and think about two things you can do to start new care patterns for yourself. Get out of the “instant gratification” pattern and into a healthy one. I know, next question, “how to do that?” The easiest thing in the world to start with is take a glass, fill it with water and leave it on the counter or in the fridge if you like cold water and drink it first thing in the morning. Try it for 10 days and be sure to recognize it is a big deal because it is a change and pat yourself on the back. “I drank my water today!” *Be sure to give yourself that pat on the back, the reinforcement of the pattern change is essential. Do not let yourself say, “so what!” (with our with out the brow furrow) If you don’t feel good about it you WILL NOT DO IT – trust me.

The second area is your mental state for the same 10 days, write down a positive remark or situation for a particular recurring negative thought or situation. For example, for me it is traffic, I live in southern California, and while in traffic before I start to feel trapped by the 25,000 other folks around me, I put on educational CD’s and at the least I can say I learned something new instead of being focused on how much I want to pull off the road and scream.

Just try it! Choose anything you want, such as, the anxious feelings produced by yet another boring, time wasting meeting you had to attend. I know you are going to rush back to work to try to catch up before you can leave for the day but instead of becoming agitated, give yourself a reward. You can do anything to repay yourself for that time, for example, a 45 minutes meeting translates into letting yourself go get a 90 minutes massage, or see that new movie you have heard about, or play an extra round of golf. Recognize your effort and reward yourself for it in a positive way. For me it’s spin class but you can make it anything you like. Try it!

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Category: Exercise, Uncategorized

About Jodean: Jodean Petersen is a medical professional who is a survivor of more than 20 surgeries, brought on by a teenage car accident which shattered the left side of her face, destroyed her left eye, and claimed the life of her best friend. Having been helped by so many, Jodean now works to help others facing similar life challenges through the outreach community she is building at View author profile.

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