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Instant Solutions. Real Satisfaction?

We live in a world now where we expect instant solutions for everything. The faster the better. We are constantly wooed by the glittering possibility that we can have whatever we want and immediate pleasure is available to us. However, all that glitters is not gold. Are instant solutions really as good as we are led to believe? Certainly marketing companies would have us think so.
Instant solutions can actually makes us feel more dissatisfied and discontented.

sun_fireball_instant world

If we are honest, we may have to face that we do want instant gratification of our cravings. Money, food, alcohol, love, relationships, communication, technology and success. You get the picture? It’s instant on Instagram! We believe these days there shouldn’t be any restrictions or limits and we can just have everything we want, including instant solutions.

Everything is at the touch of a button. Google answers most questions, so no need to study. We can tell everyone immediately on Facebook and Twitter what we are thinking and doing, how we are feeling, what we’re buying and show our whole life in photo’s online. Research shows that as consumers, we choose immediate pleasures instead of waiting a few days for much larger rewards.

People tend to splurge today and vow to exercise/diet/save tomorrow. From today’s viewpoint, people prefer to act impatiently right now but think they will act patiently later”

However, we recycle and become more impatient. We become stressed when we have to wait. Simple everyday examples that most of us can relate to, are beeping our horn at traffic lights if the car in front doesn’t move immediately the light turns green or pressing the pedestrian button to cross the road several times in annoyance when we know that once is enough.


Real Prosperity

We have lost the ability to distinguish between what we need and what we want. While we continue to spend beyond our means, always insatiable for what we desire and pollute the planet with no regard for the future, we create more instability, uncertainty and unhappiness for ourselves and others.

“Economic models are so focused on quick, self-serving rewards and solutions and so inured to long-term social costs, that it is destroying the economic foundations on which real prosperity depends.”

We are losing the art of stillness, contemplation, imagination, creativity and the importance of connection to others and realizing that we are interdependent. We neglect the ability to take time, reflect and persevere. A lot of solutions that are valuable need dedication, time and endurance. They don’t happen overnight like paying extra for overnight parcel delivery. As the world speeds up, the sense of deeper satisfaction eludes us. We need to realize that consumer goods will never satiate our yearnings and just leads us into more addictive behaviors. It’s not only about spending and getting but infiltrates every area of how we think and feel. No-one has time for anything anymore and it is destroying our mental health, our relationships and the planet.

“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers….For this,  for everything, we are out of tune.” William Wordsworth. 1806.

We feel that it is our right to be able to follow every impulse and urge and we have developed an unhealthy obsession to have everything now. It’s almost like an addiction, in the sense that rational thought gets suppressed and marginalised as overwhelming desires and craving take us over. We are ‘ruled by impulse’ and constantly search for fast rewards.

What really makes us happy and satisfied though, is a balance between a fulfilled and rich inner life and outer existence which can include work, friends and family and helping others.


Children at Play

We are ‘sold’ the fantasy by a consumer culture and ‘market-driven narcissism’ that a newer, faster phone, more powerful car and bigger house will make us happy. Bigger, better, faster! This intense self-centered fascination is no longer determined by conscious decisions but by the market which manipulates our infantile selves. We regress to being two years old. If we can’t have what we want now, we throw a temper tantrum!  As individuals and as a society we have developed “a child like impulsiveness, obsessed with short-term gain and narrow self-interest which is increasingly oblivious to long-term consequences.”
The latest technology has created touch screen ‘tablets’ so we can live in a state of continual childhood by recreating our younger experiences of touching, writing on a blackboard and finger painting.

“In everything from relationships to politics to business, the emerging norms and expectations are making it steadily harder to behave in thoughtful, civic, social ways. We struggle to make lasting commitments. We’re uncomfortable with people or ideas that don’t relate directly and immediately to us. Empathy weakens, and with it, our confidence in the idea, essential to a working democracy, that we have anything in common.”  Paul Roberts.

I was somewhat surprised to see a recent study of 6.7 million viewers interviewed about their behavior on the internet. Many were only willing to wait just 2 seconds before they abandoned what they wanted to find. “After 10 seconds half were gone.” (Sitaraman) Then I had to admit to myself that I had got used to a fast, touch screen computer and I am also the same. I also press a button and change sites on the internet if I don’t see almost instant results! I wasn’t really aware of it until I was writing this blog.


Instant Solutions bring Instant Problems

You might wonder why this is really important. Isn’t it just the natural flow of life that there are major changes every 30 or so years? Yes, everything is impermanent, but here’s some facts.

Over 98 percent of all species ever to live on earth are now extinct. Scientists are now saying that with Climate change and other factors in the near future,  we are currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event. Economically we are facing huge volatility in the financial markets and the basic elements of life such as food, air and water are being constantly degraded, lost or patented by huge corporations. Studies of our brain waves show changing patterns in our neural pathways with the use of technology and instant results from a young age.

So, what may save us individually and as a species is when we can tell ourself that we can handle the lack of a reward now, knowing that we will receive greater benefits later and are able to step out of demanding an instant life. When we delay gratification, research shows that we become more self-reliant, trustworthy and have better self-esteem. We are also dependable, eager to learn, able to cope better with stress and feel happier.

What has materialized in our world  is a vast feedback loop in which corporate self-interest triggers individual selfishness. This creates behavior where we feel less connected and have less motivation to care about others.

Kingsnorth writes that there are two stories we are good at telling ourselves. “One is that the world is ending and the other is that everything will be fine. We would do well to remind ourselves that the future is likely to be played out somewhere between these two narratives.”

Instant solutions have a good chance that they are just that. Instant and not long lasting !

instant world

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About the Author
Sherry (BSc. Sociology; MAA. Social Work, AMHSW; Masters Science Soc. Ecology; Diplomate, Process Psychology) is a faculty Director of ANZPOP.

She has offered expert psychological counselling in Australia and overseas since 1989. Sherry is currently based in both the Sydney CBD and on the Northern Beaches near Manly. She also offers national and international phone and Skype appointments.

If you would like more information or wish to reference something you have read on this website please contact Sherry.

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