Is your desire for instant gratification preventing you from finding happiness in your 60s or better? Are you shopping for positivity in all the wrong places? These are the questions that will guide today’s discussion.
We live in a society that is “always on”. Every minute of every day, we are bombarded by demands for our attention. Advertising banners promise immediate solutions to our problems, chat windows give us instant access to our friends, and search engines provide instant access to the world’s information.
There is nothing wrong with these tools individually. In fact, each of them is useful in its own way. In aggregate, however, they facilitate a mindset of instant gratification. When we want something, we want it now. The problem is that instant gratification is an addiction. We can never move fast enough because we measure each step against the last.
If we want to find happiness, we need to learn to slow down.
We need to focus on long-term relationships, not status updates. We need to search out new experiences, not new products. Think about the last time you purchased something that you saw in an advertisement. How long did the happiness from your purchase last?
How does instant gratification stop us from finding happiness after 60? In two ways. First, it creates a vicious cycle in which we need more and more stimulation just to feel “normal”. After a while, we feel uncomfortable with silence. From morning to dusk, we fill every moment with superficial sights and sounds. We are entertained without becoming enlightened. We achieve mindlessness without finding mindfulness.
Instant gratification also keeps our attention focused on immediate concerns, instead of the longer-term path of our lives. The problem is that, while distraction may take our minds off of our problems, it cannot make them disappear.
Instead, our worries sit just below the surface, waiting for an opportunity to spill out into the world in the form of arguments, anxiety or depression. Has your life become filled with too many distractions?
The good news is that there is a choice. We can benefit from technology without becoming a slave to the instant gratification mindset. The first step is to become aware of the distractions that fill our lives.
How many programs do you have open on your computer at a time? Do you have the TV on in the background while you read? Have you clicked on an online advertisement in the last week? What other distractions do you encounter on a daily basis?
The second step is to recognize and internalize the fact that you have the right to privacy and solitude. There are few questions that require an immediate response. Most special offers are actually quite ordinary.
Give yourself permission to turn off some of the programs that you have running in your head.
The more distractions you eliminate, the more your mind will be able to focus on the things that are truly important. Can you think of one common distraction that you can eliminate? If not, is there anything that you can do to reduce the frequency of distractions? Can you check your email at certain times in the day? Can you introduce a 24 hour rule for responding to advertisements? What else can you think of to clear the clutter in your life?
Once you have simplified your life by removing as many distractions as possible, you will be ready to take the final step. You will be able to fill your life with experiences that enrich your soul as they expand your mind. Is there anything that you always wanted to do, but, never found the time? Perhaps you wanted to learn how to cook exotic foods? Or, maybe you always wanted to try yoga?
Remember, trying new thing requires more than time. We also have to find the mental space and energy to get started. Many people over 60 have the time to try new things, but, they are so distracted and anxious that they never take the first step towards a more positive and active life. What is the one thing that you would try if you had the time and energy?
As you embark on your mission to remove distractions and embrace experiences, remember that you don’t need to make dramatic changes in your life.
It is often better to make small changes that can be applied every day.
Experiences don’t need to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Sometimes walking home a different way or learning a new skill can change our perspective.
Positive people love to navigate through unexplored landscapes. They know how to block out the noises of everyday life and focus on the bigger picture. They are excited when they encounter new and interesting people. Are you ready to see every new experience as an opportunity to gain insights into yourself and the world around you? Are you ready to reduce the distractions in your live and embrace your role as an explorer?
Make a list of three new experiences that you would like to have in the next month. Mark a date in your calendar for each of them.
Do you agree that removing distractions is one of the keys to happiness at any age? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.