IT ALL STARTED WITH THE MICROWAVE! Why the desire for immediate gratification nurtures anxiety

Just talk to your parents,  about all the new timesaving “inventions” that have come about in their lifetime. Where I grew up some 60+ years ago we had 2 party phone lines, there was no such thing as a plastic garbage bag, and well cameras, they are now renamed smartphones.  All these things have changed and over the years! It would be hard for millennials to think of life without the conveniences of today.

And of course, the microwave!   We are a society that demands instant gratification which teaches us to be impatient and uncomfortable when things do not go our way. People are deceived that happiness is the result of instant gratification. That statement is so far from the truth. The countertop microwave made its debut in 1967. Before that meals took much longer to prepare, and you had to be in attendance at the stove. With the microwave you set the time and walk away. A stove cooked meal was ready at one time and the family would sit and eat together.  The microwave made it easier for individuals to just heat up what they wanted whenever they wanted .  Today many seldom sit down together at the table. Many eat in front of the computer, while on the phone talking or texting or in front of TV.

Many children grow up on fast food because parents are so busy either with their multiple jobs or the child is involved in so many afterschool activities as if they are a right of passage.  Today’s youth and young adults have not, nor do not know how to take time to breathe.

Parents take stock of how teens and young adults are living their life. It is no wonder that anxiety is skyrocketing. Life is lived in a  ME–MY–NOW perspective. This causes laziness disappointment and the inability to cope with the natural turn of events. A growing number of people are substituting instant results over long-term goals.

When you live only for the moment anxiety arises when you will fall short. Anxiety rises even if there is only a perception of falling short. The addiction to –I WANT, WHAT I WANT, RIGHT NOW! Goals become buried by fears and anxiety when you do not hit the mark of “your” expectations. Things may seem ok when you are on a roll but the world seems to crash when something falls short. Some how learning to manage disappointments has subtly vanished.  

This leaves you with:

QUICK CHOICES  (where consequences are not considered)



Think about it? Those with panic and anxiety disorders are kings and queens of speculation. Fears are at the top of the list! Fears of doom and gloom. Fears of impending death, or other grave health concerns. Fear as the underlying cause of most panic and anxiety. Fears that something you own or something you wear is not up to what everyone else has. Many can come up with extensive lists of why they  “feel” they do not fit in. The hyper connection caused by social media elicits instant responses.  Speculation is what causes fears, worries, and concerns that those with mental torment experience.

In many places, phones are allowed in school making texting and contact a form of entertainment and distraction.  Focus and the retention of information is a skill that becomes repeatedly bypassed for immediate gratification.  Many lose the ability to engage in topics with educators that need a deeper plane of thinking. Either they will not develop or will lose pathways to higher thinking. Diminishing critical and creative thinking

I have observed this change when I teach even younger elementary students these days.   Example: I have a dowel rod in my hand and ask the students what it could represent as we prepare for a staged presentation.  Years ago or with students in the  more rural areas not as impacted with the ME–MY– NOW philosophy,  they may answer:

  • Someone is cooking  – a handle to a pot, a vacuum …
  • A candy cane, celery…
  • A walking cane or stick, a shoehorn…
  • A tree trunk or flower stem etc, a baseball bat…
  • A yardstick, a pen…

This list could go on forever.  They would not only name an object but continue telling me the back story of the object –  such as how a carpenter would use a yardstick.  Or they would use a pen to write a great novel.

Today when I would ask the same question I get answers such as:

  • ????? students are hard-pressed to come up with anything of substance other than maybe a TV screen and those in the cities would of course add knives and guns.

It is hard enough to try to fit into the perceived perfect world. Society impresses upon you that you deserve this and you deserve that.  Sadly most things take work and time to build strong relationships and to be deserve success.   Immediate gratification without any prep work lasts only for the moment.  Then to seek another “immediate high” individuals jump to the closest thing or person. When things are not going as planned in the ME –MY–NOW world drugs, alcohol, and or promiscuous behavior often take over.

It is important to mention that this “high” that people seek,  can be described as power. A self-given power that often lifts you by putting others down. People do this by wearing a badge that identifies themselves by accepting their current plight in life. Bullies are bullies and even labels such as panic or anxiety disorder or I am what I am. 

I have a friend that was describing how she can never sleep and has not had a full nights sleep for 5 years. “If only I could sleep. Nothing ever works…. As soon as I fall asleep I wake up.. I interrupted her and was talking to her about a family we knew. Her one son was a little young for his age. I explained how the mother kept introducing him as he is not as sharp as his brother, or he is just a little slow, or give him tie he will catch on. My sleepless friend immediately said that’s terrible she is labeling the child as to what he can accomplish… she stopped suddenly and said oh I guess that is what I have been doing also. We had our little talk about the ruts in the logging trail.

Parents and those who work with our youth need to be very careful to NOT put a label on them.

People want to belong.  For some the desire to belong is so great that they choose to identify with their mental torment. I know people who every turn in their day bring up something about living with depression or anxiety. The music they listen to what they hear what they see eve to what they post on social media. If someone really wants to become free from mental torment they need to fill in the negative ruts in their thinking. At the same time they need to start to construct positive responses.

I have overheard high school girls excitedly telling their peers that they went to the Dr and walked out with a diagnosis of anxiety or depression. Kids these days know exactly what to say to get this dx.  They also share that they are now on meds. They will share what to say to the Doctor if others want to join their group.

Photo by cottonbro on

Anxiety in teens and young adults is rising. Anxiety remains treatable.

Social media contributes to people to losing the ability to interact face to face. It is much easier to read someone when you are looking them in the eye.

A true “Friend” often can tell when to stop, but with texting when you hit send it can not be halted. Often this is what breaks up friendships because the spirit of offense shows up. Is your anxiety fueled by the Spirit of Offense?

Immediate gratification leads to speculation and the loss of self-control. Instead of decision making this ME–MY–NOW society heralds the immediate. 

 I will finish with with a  few links:

From Psychology Today: Instant Gratification. Instant FearIs the line that separates them thinner than we thought?

Remember that the root of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other mental torment is underlying fear. On Nov 5 we addressed: Fear as the underlying cause of most panic and anxiety.

Here is another great article: Instant gratification behind teen anxiety epidemic. But parents can help

As we get questions on messenger on our FB page the answers are often incorporated into one of our blogs. So if you have a question message us. Positive approach to panic and anxiety


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