It is no secret that the quality of consumer merchandise has dropped significantly in recent decades. Products made today are not designed to last more than a season or two and are nearly always cheaper to replace than to repair.
Instant gratification is wanting everything now, and its converse is deferred gratification. Low impulse control provides short term satisfaction but causes long term chaos, imbalance, and personal failure, while high impulse control causes short term dissatisfaction but provides long term order, balance, and personal success.
Here are some classic examples of how the impulse of instant gratification works in real life:
- If you are seeking a relationship, you want it to unfold as magically as in the movies, and you’re impatient about building rapport and getting to know someone. Beguiled by Hollywood, you believe that romance is as simple as locking eyes across the room, talking breathlessly, and effortlessly plunging into a whirlwind of pleasurable experiences.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I think it’s something that’s conditioned in us from an early age, by friends, television, and the general culture: we always seem to want more.
More money, more gadgets, better furniture, a better house, a better car, more clothes, more shoes, more success.
And what happens when we get more? We aren’t satisfied, because there are new ads for new iPods, for new laptops, for new iPhones, for new cars, for new clothes. We have to have those. It’s impossible to satisfy that hunger for more, because our culture is not satisfied with what we have, but is geared to wanting more. It’s consumerism, and it’s the official religion of the industrialized world.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann
The first step in simplifying, and living with less, is to identify the essential – that which you want to keep in your life. Then eliminate as much of the non- essential as possible.
I go into much more detail on this process in The Power of Less (please buy it to read more on all these topics – see ThePowerofLess.com), but basically you want to create a Short List of 4-5 things in your life that you value most – people you love or things you’re passionate about, things you want in your life. These are your essentials.