Delayed Gratification

In the 60s, the well-known marshmallow test was done at Stanford University. The film shows in more detail. What was tested was children’s ability to “resist a small and immediate reward in favor of a larger but delayed reward”. The children who could resist were followed up later in life and they were found to have succeeded better in studies, habits and health.

We are increasingly driven by instant gratification, just look at our huge addiction to picking up the mobile phone to get the dopamine hit of scanning social media.

As a person who actively exercises, and also with a desire to often try to eat healthy, you are sometimes told that you should “treat yourself” to some coffee, a beer, a pizza or some snacks when everyone else thinks the occasion calls for it. The environment is used to instant gratification and lots of small rewards, and has a hard time understanding that some of us are more focused on the long-term rewards that come from making healthier choices, more often. Some of them are

  • Better physique, less overweight and more muscles
  • Sharper and more alert brain
  • Lower stress and better sleep
  • The satisfaction of following a long-term plan and being able to live up to one’s goals
  • Less pain and joint discomfort

Often people with better willpower, those who can delay gratification, are more successful financially. They are prepared to work harder and longer term to achieve their goals in the workplace and they realize the importance of saving part of their income. Thus, they both receive a higher salary and build a better buffer.

There is much to be gained by having a little more discipline in your life. It is discipline, an ability to make wise choices more often, that will give you motivation. The wise choices produce results, with the results comes a satisfaction and a joy that makes it feel easy to maintain discipline.

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