Week 4: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - The Importance of Delayed Gratification
Gimme, gimme, gimme. Now, now, now. Heyo, this is the age of immediate gratification and excess. Those headphones sound better than the ones I have, and I want them now. Click. Click. Done.
The Chronic Problem of Immediate Gratification
When we want or need something, it's as easy as opening our browser to Amazon.com or driving to Target and feeling that rush of immediate gratification. No thought required. Just a credit card and a desire.
This scares me. You know the feeling of emptiness that comes after an impulse buy? It's like a cloud of confusion. It's not satisfying us the way we thought it would. The thing we bought didn't solve our problems. It didn't make us happier (because only you can make you happier). We often choose what is easy instead of what is better in the long run. Maybe our brains are wired that way. Survival, man! But, it's no good.
Let's think of this from an environmental standpoint. When we go grocery shopping or buy clothes, it takes time to consider your options and make an educated decision about which products or food items are the most environmentally-friendly. It's impossible to go through this process of critical and careful thinking with impulse buys. You just don't take the time for reflection, and you often end up buying things you don't need, or things that are not ethical or eco-friendly. And we keep doing it. It's an endless cycle. Until it's not.
How About Delayed Gratification?
You can break out of the instant gratification wheel and start critically thinking about what you own and why. It just takes a conscious effort and some encouragement. I'm not immune to it either! I used to use shopping as a pick-me-up if I was sad or felt like I wanted to treat myself. Why not buy a cute new Patagonia fleece to make everything better?
But I've realized, it doesn't work like that. It's about a shift in your mindset, and about feeling happier within ourselves. Not external things. It's easier to choose the immediate gratification. It feels good and it makes us happy for a microsecond. But that's not how we make conscious, focused decisions with long-term benefits to ourselves and the environment. How many times have you hit the snooze button instead of getting up to work out, run, yoga? Or grabbed the plastic-packaged options at the supermarket instead of loose produce because it's quicker?
Slow Down and Think for the Environment's Sake
Catch my drift, ride my wave. Slow down. Think about things. Only buy what you need, what you'll use. Do your research and support companies that care about the Earth more than profits. Don't waste resources by gathering things you aren't using. Collect memories instead of experiences. Go outside and feel things. Raise your heart rate. Reduce, reuse.
This week's challenge is just to...not. For seven days, try not to buy things apart from food and other critical necessities. What do you really need? You probably have it at home, it might just not be the glitziest tech gadget at the office or the prettiest dress at the party. Don't take it so seriously. Be happy with what you have. This moment is bliss.
The ability to delay gratification, for the wellbeing of the Earth, is probably one of the most important skills we can build right now.