A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.

Much wants more and loses all.

From Aesop’s Fables

Killing the source of your blessings with the thought that you can therefore harness the source of blessing is psychotic. Before we judge the couple, however, let’s take inventory of our own circumstances.

Immediate gratification is well-known to produce adult infants, such as the impatient couple in the story. Even we who are otherwise responsible and independent can’t help but have a streak of the toddler’s impatience today. It is the modern American way, it seems, to demand for one’s self that which we want, when we want it, and in the manner we want it. We have so much! And yet, it is never enough. When someone or some circumstance obstructs our demand, we overtly loose our cool or internalize the anger.

But this old fable, many centuries old, reveals to us this demand for gratification on our own terms is nothing new. It is not uniquely American, nor modern. It is part of the broken human condition.

We must strive to identify this peculiar vice in us. That is, the demand in pride that we get blessings on our own terms and on our own timing. Truly, the demand never works out in the end, as the fable of the Goose shows. Such a prideful insistence operates in a world of fantasy, illusion. In short, it is a type of psychosis, a detachment from reality.

Usually, psychoses are seen as the worst sort of mental illness. We drug and lock up people who hear voices and harm themselves. And yet, instant gratification is such an acceptable illness today (and, apparently, always) that we routinely fail to see it for what it is: A departure from reality.

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Instant gratification destroys character and results in a decayed mental and emotional state. We are worse off. It is a form of self-harm, a form of seeing things that aren’t there. It is often accompanied by self-medication such as excessive use of alcohol or pornography or other destructive behaviors and substances. Indeed, it is our common psychosis.

How does this apply to life? 

  • Strive toward patient acceptance of your neighbors and of your circumstances. 
  • Accept each blessing and difficulty as it comes. 
  • Do not worry.
  • Let each day be a sufficient focus or timeframe for your efforts and attention on the necessities of life. 
  • Give it all to God and cut back the porn, alcohol, etc. 
  • Stop demanding things go when and how you want them. 

This radical acceptance of the world as it is (and not how we imagine it to be in a psychotic break from the real world) is the only way toward true sanity.