Who wants to wait? In this fast-paced world, it is so hard to learn to wait. We need all the good things to happen. Right now. It often feels that instant gratification is worked into every aspect of our lives. Feeling lonely? Check your social media app - immediate gratification. Bored? A world of videos and articles exists to satisfy your need for short-term gratification.
However, for some people, instant gratification goes further than our culture's obsession with getting everything right now. Sometimes, not being able to wait may be a sign of something harmful.
Instant gratification can be seen in terms of delay discounting, which is the tendency to think of future rewards as less valuable compared to rewards right now. For example, $100 today is more valuable than $100 next year. Your need for instant gratification is important to understand because it provides insight about your risk of certain mental conditions such as schizophrenia, major depression, and attention deficit disorder. Because it is connected to your reward pathway, it has far-reaching implications on your behavior in general.
In a relatively large genome-wide association study of European adults, it was found that a small change along the neuronal membrane glycoprotein M6B (GPM6B) gene was associated with delay discounting. This is interesting because the specific gene has been previously linked to the serotonin transporter, and serotonin is the hormone associated with well-being and happiness. In fact, in a separate animal experiment, mice without the GMP6B gene had deficient inhibition (in other words, they showed less restraint, which is another way of thinking about delay discounting). Read the original article here to learn more:
The connection between diseases like schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD and instant gratification makes understanding a genetic component of an obsession with short-term gratification much more important. Perhaps knowing that people who tend to consistently seek out short-term gratification tend to suffer from these kinds of psychological issues can help us to catch them earlier. Early treatment is extremely important for all of these conditions, so knowing that you have a gene that's associated with instant gratification can be helpful for getting ahead of health concerns and getting appropriate treatment as early as possible.
Even people who aren't at risk for an important health concern can benefit greatly from understanding that a genetic component is driving their need for immediate gratification. It can be easier to wait or to avoid situations that make waiting hard when you know that you are genetically predisposed to struggle with waiting.
If you've struggled with delaying gratification and see the same characteristics in your child or another family member, understanding a genetic component can help you to teach the skills required to wait even when it's hard.
It can be challenging to overcome the desire for instant gratification, particularly in a culture that offers so many opportunities for it. However, knowing whether you have an instant gratification gene may make waiting easier.
Are your genes driving you toward needing instant gratification? Find out on Genomelink now.