"I want it NOW!" Most of us are familiar with the demands and subsequent tantrums of young children when they don't get what they want.
Instant banking. Cell phones. Fast food. Same day delivery. High-speed internet. Are we becoming conditioned to expect things immediately and if we don't get them when we think we should get them, we have our own version of a tantrum?
Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin's book contrasting new marketing with the old brings up two important points, which I think contribute to our sense of overwhelm and affect our ability to be patient and tolerant when we don't get our way:
- Our time is precious and we simply do not want to wait. Force us to wait and we'll go elsewhere.
- Our attention spans shorten due to the increasing amount of clutter which surrounds us.
In his 1970 book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler explains that "technology feeds on itself." Improvements in technology shortens the time between the conception of the idea and the distribution of the finished product. The process is hastened and we've come to expect more from ourselves and also, from our machines.
Toffler discusses the acceleration of change, which shortens the duration of situations and multiplies the number of roles we must play and the number of choices we must make in any given day. He goes on to say:
"There is more switching back and forth, less time for extended, peaceful attention to one problem or situation at a time."
This overwhelming sense of too much to do and not enough time in which to do it can be a huge source of stress. Some people are well-equipped to handle this load, but many find that they are succumbing to the constant wear and tear on their nervous system. Our perceptions of the events in which we find ourselves trigger the flight, fight or freeze response. This leads to any number of concerns, including, but not limited to:
- Poor sleep
- Aches and pains
- Foggy thinking
"In general, the hair-trigger condition created by adrenocortical arousal explains why people are so much more prone to anger if they have already been provoked or slightly irritated by something else. Stress of all sorts creates adrenocortical arousal, lowering the threshold for what provokes anger." Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence
Ironically, it is the word "now" that plays a significant role in how we can treat the source of our stress. In each given moment, we have the power to choose whether we will act or react to that particular situation. Becoming aware of the stress process and knowing what to do in order to calm the flight, fight or freeze response is empowering. Resilience is restored and one is able to take a more measured and reasonable approach to the encroaching march of time.
Questions for further thought:
- Are you addicted to newer, faster, further, better?
- At what point do you say enough?
- Have you heard yourself saying, "I want it NOW!" for things that realistically, can wait?
- How has your life been impacted by the increasing speed of the world?
- Do you have skills in place to help you cope?