What makes a child happy? -- instant gratification. When he fell down and brusied his knee, give him a cookie, he's happy again. Had a bad day, take him to his favorite arcade for an hour and he'll perk right up. Someone teasted him, buy him a toy. Instant happiness. Children don't understand the long-term value or benefits of restraint when something they want is put in front of them.
I'm thinking how this just doesn't fly with adults.
Some of us (totally guilty-- I am not lecturing anyone here, but just having thoughts that involve myself as well) still have an immature attitude and thrive on that instant gratification-- I know my husband does and admits it is one of his biggest problems. Sure, instant gratification feels good-- at first..
But it's a trap. A lot of times, that instant gratification feels good for about an instant, but then leads to more problems that make me unhappy.
Some of my proudest accomplisments and most treasured things in life are not things I got instantly, but that I had to work and sacrifice for... they were not instant, they cost me some sweat, tears, deprivation, endurance, I had to work and focus and stick with it and pass up a whole lot of other opportunities-- but when I achieved the goal, the long-term gratification exceeded the 100 or so moments of instant gratification I had to pass up on to get there.
So why is it that some adults cannot grow out of that instant gratification mode? And this is not just with food, but with education, finances, lifestyle-- even raising kid (how many people fall into giving into the tantrum to get the kid to quickly stop over sticking to their guns and being firm with the discipline?).
This is why people who succeed have certain things in common-- they are tenatious, they go after the bigger goals, they have endurance for the long-term, they don't give into the instant gratification temptation as often, they see the bigger picture and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get there in the long term.
I guess I see that a lot with health and fitness and diet.
I remember I grew up in a household in a land where veggies didn't exist. Veggies were butter-laden high carb canned corn and mashed potatoes, maybe cucumbers & lettuce on Sundays, and a couple of sliced up tomatoes on your hero sandwiches.
I had decided, in some point in my teens or early 20s, that I was going to learn to like vegetables. I was already on the yo-yo dieting band-wagon since age 14 (even though I wasn't really fat, my mother made me believe I was, and dieting became a cat-and-mouse game of power & control for her. I was the mouse-- more on that another day). Anyway... I had read an article that said you can acquire the taste for different foods by eating them. Studies showed it took only 10 to 15 times for you to eat a food before you start learning to like it.
So, I started with my most hated vegetable-- broccoli-- to see if it had any truth to it. Three times per week, I would buy a bunch and steam the flourettes. Put them in a bowl with a little parmasean cheese, and eat them. First week they didn't go down well; second week, they went down easier; third week I actually started to like it. I learned to love broccoli, green beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, asparagus, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage, all kinds of squash, etc... and my tastes had begun to evolve so that it didn't even take me 10 to 15 times. Some I began liking right off the bat.
Anyway, that's how I learned to love vegetables, and got my husband into it too.
So I remember I had this friend... she was always overweight as long as I'd known her, a lot worse than I was (of course, my self-image was distorted back then, I hardly qualified as fat at all but thought I was huge). She was really steadfast in working, saving, etc... she was a bit of a recluse though, didn't get out much, hated exercise and her biggest pasttime was sitting around watching tv. She also loved to eat.
She almost never talked about health and fitness. But one day she mentioned how she had decided to try and lose weight, that she'd been coming home every night eating big servings of vegetables-- corn and potatoes.
I said, "those are not really counted as vegetables, though."
She was seriously taken aback. "What do you mean they're not vegetables?"
"Well, they're high-startch vegetables; they actually count as a serving of carbohydrates. They have few nutrients. You should try green and yellow vegetables like spinach and broccoli and zucchini, or salads."
Her jaw dropped, and she yelled at me, "But I don't like vegetables except corn and potatoes!" She yelled at me as if I had personally decided to change the molecular structure of food just to ruin her diet plan, and as if I should change it right away to make potatoes and corn have the same properties as kale.
I didn't want to argue. I just said something along the lines of, "Look, it's one of those things where you do what you need to do, or you don't. I just wanted you to know that lots of potatoes & corn should be counted as carbs so you don't sabbotage yourself."
I think that was the end of dieting with her. We lost touch after I moved across country, however as I was browsing some "health and fitness" forums, I was reminded of her. There are two points that are probably most common to all of the people seeking weight-loss help. 1) they want to do it fast and 2) they don't want to eat vegetables.
And it brought me to pondering the whole 1) instant gratification thing and the 2) not willing to make sacrifices and do what is necessary to achieve a long-term goal (a healthier lifestyle).
And then I got to thinking about magic, and how much magic focuses on positive thinking. If you doubt your spells will work, they probably won't. I got to thinking about self-fulfilled prophecies and neurolinguistic programming and the power of thought, and I guess Witches have about had that right all along.
So losing weight, it's like it's time to become an adult. To think about the long-term, about thinking about the sacrifices and doing what you have to do-- like it or not-- to reach the better, more prized, more valued goals that don't come instantly.
I was thinking of this last night as I sat there after the kids went to bed, watching TV with my husband, and was having mad cravings (PMS time). I had eaten well for the day-- I had a big green smoothie (mixed fruit, kale, spinach) for breakfast, a piece of veggie lasagna for lunch, 2 wraps with hummus & roasted asparagus & red peppers for dinner, a big bowl of watermelon, and I even made Cook Yourself Thin "fudgy brownies" and had one-- so I was set. But I wanted Chinese food so badly I could smell it... literally smell it. Maybe it's because I lost my hunger-warding charm (or because I know I lost it, psychologically). And I said, "I don't want to give into a weak moment like this." And I didn't.
So I sucked it up and was an adult, and went for the long haul. And if anyone is going to succeed in losing weight and keeping off, that is the attitude we have to adopt-- suck it up and do it for the long haul. Forget about what you "want" and "don't want" at the moment. Forget about what you "like" and "don't like." Eat the veggies. Get to the gym (or jog, or do the morning yoga tapes-- whatever). Put down the food and walk away when you've had enough. Just say "no" to the can of Pepsi someone is holding out to you. Just make the sacrifices and do what you got to do for that much better, much more rewarding and satifying long-term goal.
The new affirmations:
I am an adult; I can suck it up and do what's better for me.
Instant gratification are roadblocks to bigger and better things.
I like being thinner and fitter more than I like sucking down a big plate of junk food.
I don't like exercise; but I don't like my body fat even more.
Ritual spell tonight (kids had a sleep-over last night and I couldn't do my esbat):
"Breaking" the attraction of instant gratification.