Instant gratification vs fulfillment.

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When I intend to keep myself to my goals, there’s always a battle going on in my mind that wants instant gratification. The problem is that to reach my goals, I will need more to fulfill that. So in my journey, I already met my brain that has that battle going on. And let me start with food.

When I was drinking a tea yesterday, I promised myself to have one mini chocolate bar. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay with just one, I ate five of them. So I started to wonder why I ate five of them and not just one as I had planned. Some answers came to my mind on things I’ve learned already.

First I remembered a story from a monk, in which he tells about that people always want more things. People will always have that longing for something more. They want more friends, more money, more time to spend with family, more business opportunities and so on. They don’t really make it measurable, but as long as it feels like it’s more, it’s fine.

Then I remembered something else. I’ve read a book about managing the mind (I will come back to this book later on), and it is said that the brain exists of seven parts. Three of them are as followed: the emotional brain (also called the monkey mind), and the rational brain (the human mind), and the automatic part (the computer).

The emotional brain always wants to keep me in the comfort zone. It’s familiar there and it’s all safe. I think that this part of the brain is responsible that I ate five chocolate bars instead of one. Eating a chocolate bar is something I’m familiar with and so it says I can eat more. Also, it felt great eating it (instant gratification), so why not eat more?

Well when I compare it with eating an apple, I discovered that I don’t have an instant gratification, but more a sensation of fulfillment. It felt more like a fulfillment is, because it is connected with my goal I’ve set to get a 6-pack. Basically what I discovered is that the emotional brain wants things in the short term and the rational brain wants things in the long term.

Try to imagine this example:

It’s 9 AM and you have a friend coming you to visit at 2 PM. You want to give your friend something nice to eat with a drink, so you decide to go to the store. There you some nice cookies, donuts, cheesecakes, brownies and more. You figure out that you have plenty of time left before your visit arrives and you decide to take something for yourself to have after you’ve done shopping. Then you remember that you are going to watch a movie with your partner at home later in the evening, so you decide to bring something nice for that as well. That day you’ve eaten three things that contain a lot of sugar and fat. You liked eating them, but after the movie has ended you start to feel regret that you ate three of them instead of one.

The feeling when eating it comes from the monkey mind. That part of the brain liked it because you ate it before and the flavor was just great. However, that feeling of regret comes from the human mind because you actually want to lose weight. You’ve decided for the short-term, not the long-term.

It happens to me occasionally and it is up to me to get back on the track right away. It’s not going to be easy to fight the emotional brain because that one is stronger than the rational brain. I can already hear my brain saying: “Ah just one of them can’t hurt you.” Well, that’s when the battle starts.

But what if you went to buy some vegetables instead. Can you imagine that feeling as well? What if you decided to buy some small fruit and small cucumbers and small tomatoes. Not just for your friend, but also for yourself after doing the shopping. And hey since you’re going to watch a movie with your partner, why not have something for later as well.

Can you feel the difference between these two events?

The difference I see are emotions. With eating those sweet, fatty products some strong emotions come up to me: Lovely, fantastic, great. However, with eating healthy snacks, those feelings are not what I experience. I’d experienced milder emotions like good, nice, and fine. And that makes me decide on the short term or the long term.

Now that I’m working on my 6-pack, I will meet these challenges a lot more often. I have the choice to make my dream a reality or just let it be a dream. So will I go for instant gratification or will I go for fulfillment? We’ll see in 90 days.

Next expected blogs coming up:

  • A financial plan
  • Exercises
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