It took mankind millions of years to develop opposable thumbs. It takes much love and care to see the night queen flower bloom just once a year. It takes nine months to grow a baby in the womb. Nature knows good things can’t be hurried.
We humans seem to be the exact opposite of nature. It’s excruciating for us to wait for 10 seconds before the traffic signal turns green. Why follow rules when we can get our way? We spend money we don’t yet have. What are credit cards for? We take steroids to beef-up in weeks. Why wait for months to get a natural bulge? We prefer liposuction to a healthy diet. Why bother with discipline when there’s a quick-fix? We modify crops to yield faster. Why wait for organic produce?
Our impatience is understandable. Technology and consumerism have eased a lot of things for us. If we don’t know the capital of Bhutan, we need only type the phrase on Google to find the answer Thimphu in less than two seconds. If we want to buy a last-minute gift, we need only get onto a shopping website, select something, and pay for same-day delivery. On the flip side, we now tend to view all kinds of goals through the lens of new-age technology and consumerism, hoping our paths will be easy. In our greed for instant gratification, little do we see how unnatural life can get.
According to psychologist Tishya Mahindru Shahani, human beings have an innate pleasure-principle that drives the need to satisfy all wants immediately. But health, wealth, wisdom and mastery are no results of clicking a button. There’s a growing gap between the things that are achievable in an instant and the things that take determination and persistence. It’s this gap that we’re frustrated with. It’s what makes impatience bleed into all areas of life.
When it comes to instant gratification, we’re our own enemies. Observes psychologist Anna Chandy, “Impatience limits our organisational skills. We don’t want to cope with delay and uncertainty. So, in the process, we hinder our own ability to plan long-term, and thereby delay our own goals.”