11 Sources of Instant Gratification You Can Feel Good About


By now, most of have heard warnings on the dangers of instant gratification. We agree that it's a little crazy that we now live in a culture where 25% of us aren't willing to wait longer than five seconds for a video to load. We know that our inability to wait costs us, whether it's $99 for Amazon Prime so our online impulse purchases arrive faster, or even more for next-day shipping.

It makes sense to us that not being able to delay gratification makes it hard for us to become wealthy, and even that it makes us more and more impatient. And we've learned how marketing targets our desire for instant gratification, so we end up spending more money, even when we intend to spend nothing.

But what if there were ways to give in to our desire for instant gratification without damaging our long term goals? What if we could feed this desire just enough that we could resist it when it really counted? (See also: Delayed Gratification and the Secret to Willpower)

Interested? Consider these ways of embracing instant gratification in ways that probably won't harm us in the long-term.

1. Eat What You Like First

A lot of us look at a plate full of food and eat what we don't like first, because we want to save our favorites or because we want to be healthy and we don't like the healthy food as much. Instead, eat your favorite food first! You'll feel warm and fuzzy inside, and the order in which you eat your food really doesn't matter.

2. Plan to Cheat

In any long-term plan, make sure you have included ways to cheat on your plan. If you want to go on a diet, plan to choose a dessert when you go to dinner with your friend every Wednesday. If you want to save money, give yourself some — even just a little — that you can spend when you see something you really, really want. This will help you get your instant gratification fix without having your whole plan come undone.

3. Grab a Deal on Things You Know You Want

Let's say there's a book you've been meaning to buy. You're perfectly willing to pay full price. Then, one day, you see that it's available for $0.99 from Amazon for a limited time. Snatch it up, and you will serve both your long-term goals (since you wanted the book) and your need for instant gratification (because you made the decision to buy quickly, and you get the hit of adrenaline that comes along with that). As long as you had planned to buy something anyway, buying it for a lower price (as long as you know you have the cash) isn't going to hurt you.

4. Take Companies Up on Their Offers

If you are working with a company that offers instant support, whether via phone, chat, or text message, take them up on it when you need it. After all, you usually need them when something isn't working, so there's not much harm in using what they offer. Getting instant answers to your questions will make you feel better, but will not harm your long-term goals.

5. Pull Out the Crystal and the Good Plates

It's easy to end up drinking wine out of everyday glasses and eating off paper plates, but that doesn't feel very good. Instead, try getting fancy on a regular basis. This will feed your need for instant gratification because you'll get to feel special and excited, and it won't hurt anything because even the good plates can be washed.

6. Spend a Set Amount of Time on Social Media

Social media, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have been criticized because they only feed our need for instant gratification. However, for many of us, they also enhance our lives. Our best friends may live across the country, or it helps connect us to the people who want and need our products. So, instead of signing off entirely, try giving yourself a time limit. This will make sure that you prioritize the connections you want to make and have minimal time for getting gratification for gratification's sake. And connecting with people always makes life better and more satisfying, so we'll be less likely to look for instant gratification somewhere else.

7. Download Free Apps/Ebooks/Music

One of the places where instant gratification can let us down in a major way is when we download things we don't really want but that end up costing us quite a bit of cash. Instead, when you get that urge, download free things instead. Most app stores have an option to see lists of free apps, and you can always get books for free from Amazon. Noise Trade and similar sites offer free music, sometimes from high-profile artists. This way, you can feed your desire for instant gratification without hurting your bottom line.

8. Reframe Everything

Many of your daily disciplines, which feel like going after delayed gratification, can be reframed and thought of in terms of instant gratification, too. For instance, you choose to go to the gym instead of crashing on your couch with Netflix. The endorphin rush from the exercise is your instant gratification. You put in extra hours on a project that doesn't make your heart go pitter-pat? The additions to the project, the words, pages, images, whatever, are your instant gratification. It can feel a little weird at first, but it can help you to choose working towards your long-term goals when there's at least something you're getting out of it instantly.

9. Watch Yourself Save Money

This may be a surprising addition to this list, but think about it. When you save money, you can get a hit of instant gratification, because you'll get to watch your wealth increase. It will help to have some visual indication of your progress, so you can see your money making more and more money. This will not only help you get some of the instant gratification you crave, but it will also make you better off over the long run.

10. Wear Your Favorite Perfume Today

It's easy, especially when your scent is expensive, to try and forego wearing it every day. However, if you let yourself spritz away, you may feel more satisfied and happy all day, and be less likely to let instant gratification get the best of you later.

11. Pick a Movie, Any Movie

The next time you go see a movie, watch whatever you want to watch. It's easy to get caught up in watching what other people are watching, or watching something that is supposed to be great or well-made or have superb acting. But it doesn't hurt, once in a while, to just watch what you want to watch. It will feed the instant gratification bug, and you might have more fun, too.

How you do feed your instant gratification bug? And when do you refuse to give in to it?

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Guest's picture

I know this is nitpicking, but Amazon Prime is now $99/year.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

Hey, Heidi. Thanks for letting me know. Mine's due for renewal any time now, so the last time I paid for it, it was $79.