What Are You Chasing – Instant Gratification Or Happiness?

Posted on April 20th, 2010 by Colin and is posted in Growth, Midlife

                                                                  What Are You Chasing – Instant Gratification Or Happiness?                                

There is a big difference between pleasure and happiness. When we’re not happy with certain aspects of our lives most of us indulge ourselves in what I call ‘ketchup behaviours.’

My children constantly give me some great insights and this particular one came from my eldest, Sonnie. One day I notice he went overboard with the ketchup on his dinner. When I asked him why all the ketchup he said he didn’t like the taste of the food and all this ketchup takes the horrible taste away. Ketchup behaviours make life taste a little better whilst masking an underlying uncomfortable feeling or a feeling of emptiness.

Somebody asked me the other day, “Why do many people arrive in midlife depressed or out of sorts?”

My response was, because many of us arrive at midlife with a lot of unhappiness inside us without even realising it, or we know it but we don’t want to face it up to it. In an effort to cover up the pain we’re likely to develop some serious addictions in order to feel better.

We get into immediate remedies – for example medications, coffee, cigarettes, gossiping, alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex. You might become a workaholic. Or you may stuff yourself with food.

Many things we do bring us instant pleasure but not always happiness. Activities like these change how you feel fast, that’s their appeal, but they’re a bad idea. At best they will change how you feel for a few hours but when the hit wears off you feel more emptiness than you did before.

Of course there are countless positive ways of getting instant gratification as well. Something as simple as taking a shower after a long run, getting a massage, watching a funny movie and of course, shopping. We all should indulge in various forms of pleasure as they’re essential to our overall well being.

But remember pleasure is different from happiness.

Happiness is a feeling of fulfilment and deep joy, whereas pleasure is usually a form of instant gratification. This can be the challenge with excessive materialism. The more we feed it the hungrier it becomes. Similar to eating your favourite chocolate, once eaten you’re soon looking for one more bite or the next cake. The craving doesn’t subside. Contentment becomes elusive. So the craving for the next hit begins again along with the deep feelings of insecurity and anxiety.

Ketchup behaviours work in the short term but in the long term it does nothing more than reinforce an impoverish sense of self.  Nothing external, no amount of cars, nice outfits, expensive holidays, glittery jewellery or big houses can fill the hole of a poor self-image and low self-worth.

Commonly this is known as having an ‘inferiority complex’

It’s a learnt belief that says you’re incomplete without the attainment of something outside of yourself. Self-worth comes from knowing who you are and what you stand for. When you have self-worth you feel good about yourself, you respect yourself. Self-worth means knowing you are perfect just the way you are and accepting yourself completely.

One of the reasons we fail to attract what we want is low self-worth. Self-worth is completely subjective and may or may not depend on your talents, skills and achievements. If you have a feeling that you are not worthy of having the life you want, then you will not manifest the life you want. Full stop!

It is not the skills, talents, and experience but a high sense of self-worth which manifests the life you want. So it is very important to improve your sense of self worth to attract the life you desire.

One of the main reasons for low self-worth is excessive self-criticism and the instant accepting of criticism from others. If self-criticism is your problem, stop looking at you through your own eyes and start looking through the eyes of the people who love you. Many a times it is true that because of your obsessive self-criticism you are blind to your positive qualities.

Sometimes it so happens that you start attracting the wealth, health, love and success that you strongly desire, but your poor self-worth will quickly sabotage any success you are having. You’ve probably seen this happen to people who are suspicious of their lovers because of their jealousy.  At first, their intrinsic worthiness attracts the love of their life, but their low self-worth is not ready to accept this, and the worst part is they start suspecting it’s their loves fault. Then, the thing they desire (their lover) is pushed away. And so the pattern repeats itself.

At midlife we have to work hard at undoing the learnt erroneous scripts formed in the first part of our lifetime so that we can find our individual expression of wisdom and truth.

Here are four things you can do to increase your self worth:

1. Practice Forgiveness – Forgive yourself for past failures, mistakes and disappointments. Forgiveness releases the strong feelings of hate and bitterness that are like poisons inside you. Correct what you can and move on!

2. Get your needs met – Learn what you need from others and how you react to situations. Strive to consistently find ways to meet your needs and your self worth will go up!

3. Respect yourself – Stop behaviors that make you feel ashamed, guilty or unworthy. Eliminate all negative relationships with those who mistreat, disrespect and leave you feeling crap!

4. Build on your strengths – Seek out and build on your strengths that you have not used. Find ways of using more of your innate strengths. Knowing that you have these strengths and can do well with them is a great confidence and self worth builder.

Low self-worth is something we’ve learnt, so it’s also something we can unlearn. Make it a clear intention to love and accept yourself at all times. Working on your self worth is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and before long you’ll notice you’ll rely less on ‘ketchup behaviours’ and every aspect of your life will start looking better and better.

Speak your mind! Comments are welcome! And please, if you have enjoyed it, give it some Facebook love!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 1:40 pm and is filed under Growth, Midlife. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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    Take a look at some of the responses we have had to this article.

    1. Apr 24th


      Great post….(love the ketchup analogy!)


    2. Apr 25th

      Great article Colin.
      Two points:
      1) Another strategy I coach my clients to overcome the low self-esteem and self-worth issue is to learn how to begin accepting compliments. So many people do not know how to, or because of their low self-image won’t allow themselves to accept the compliment. So, we discount the compliment, we say we’re not worthy of it, and it continues to reinforce the negative believes we have about ourselves.

      I also tell my clients that to continue to deflect and discount the compliment is to discount the opinions of others who have taken the time, thought and effort to offer the compliment and so, if for no other reason if to appreciate the other’s effort and insights, we should accept the compliments of others. That over time will help us to shift our self-image as we build a new habit of thinking, feeling and acting.

      2) I love ketchup and many times have done the same with foods I have to ‘spice’ up and make palatable. One thing to add is that ketchup is a condiment that has little nutritional value as well, and provides about as long-term value/pleasure as the other short-term pleasures for instant-gratification strategies you make note of. For long-term nutrition and health we should be adding more value to our meals than condiments like ketchup. Which I still use to a much lesser extent than before.

    3. Colin
      Apr 27th

      Hi Skip
      You make two great points especially how easy it is to discount a compliment and thus reinforce a low self image. Just saying thank you can go along way to changing how we feel about ourself. And it makes it pleasurable for the giver.
      Nice to meet you electronically and thanks for droping in.

    4. Colin
      Apr 27th

      Hola Sital

      I thought you would like the analogy :o )

      Rock on

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