Little boy eating food

The Power of Delayed Gratification

It seems like the more technology and communication allows us to become a smaller world, the more we try to make sure that everything (including our feelings) are convenient. In a certain situation, one may try to persevere through pain, knowing that there is a greater purpose at the end, but too many times, we try to find a band-aid fix so that we can simply feel better.

It’s all around us. If you are struggling with finances, the band-aid solution is to try your luck at the lotto, or look into the next “get rich quick scheme.” If you’re sick you’ll pop any pill before looking at the underlying cause of the sickness. Too little people see the value of being patient through suffering or staying the course of an particular goal. Liposuction is much easier than heading to the gym. Am i right? We continue to try end our pain in the moment without knowing the long term consequences, or the benefits of just being patient.

The Case for Pleasure

Philosopher, Sigmund Frued, came up with the term pleasure principle, which the instinctive case of seeking out pleasure and avoiding pain in order to satisfy biological needs. Frued believes this is the basic nature that guides our natural self. This actually means that delaying gratification is pretty much hard for us to do. There’s also a saying. “What comes easy isn’t worth having.” Saving up for that new house and delaying that vacation is hard. Staying at the job, knowing that you hate it, but also knowing that it wil provide the next step in your career is hard.

At the same time, pleasure is essential to behavior. The pleasure principle begins as a baby when he/she cries for food. It’s innate to survival because without gaining this “pleasure” of food, the baby will not be able to survive. As humans, we need food and water to live, so the instant gratification of these needs are definitely useful. As we grow, the value of an adult is not placed in how quickly he/she can achieve, but the work ethic, discipline, and the struggle to accomplish a goal.

Our adult selves have a pretty complicated relationship with pleasure. I mentioned a lot of examples of how we try to go for the gold instantly instead of taking the path down the rainbow. A lot of instant gratification has to do with status symbols and ego. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with trying to start that company to become a millionaire, or spending that hard earn money on a shopping spree. It only becomes a problem with you only seek pleasure to avoid pain.

Why You Should Delay Gratification

The biggest measure of success is achieving a goal, but did you also know the biggest quality in successful people is the ability to delay gratification. People who can manage their need in every aspect of life usually strive more than people who give into it. This is a hard skill to acquire, as previously mentioned, at birth we give into our pain by immediately getting what we ask for with tears and screaming. It’s knowing that having pleasure now is good, but the waiting can unlock way more benefits.

What are the benefits of delayed gratification? Let’s use a credit card for our last example. If you want to buy something, but don’t have the cash. Are you willing to wait and save up for that item, or will you use a credit card and “pay yourself back” later? There doesn’t seem to be any drawback from saving other than the fact that you would have to wait, whereas, the credit card comes with instant gratification of getting the item, but that high interest rate associated with it if you can’t make that payment.