10 Benefits of Delayed Gratification
In today’s society, the concept of delayed gratification seems almost quaint. Thanks to technological advances and near-instantaneous access to cash, it is relatively easy to get what you want exactly when you want it. Most retailers have online stores, provide in-store credit cards, and offer fast delivery. As a result, you might not ever have to wait long for any product. Some may even offer same-day delivery. The internet has also made gaining access to a variety of services much easier. For example, if you are thinking about suing your neighbor you can get a ton of legal information just by browsing online. You may even be able to chat with a lawyer without leaving your home. Thanks to instant messaging, email, and texting, we do not even need to wait long for responses.
Our culture’s obsession with instant gratification does make many things in life easier. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily make them better. Simply because you can buy something on credit and have it delivered tomorrow does not mean it is a good idea. There are morals, lessons, and values that can be found in learning to delay gratification. It can be hard to learn. After all, society has not exactly trained us to be experts in self-control. Thanks to our ability to access anything at virtually any time, learning how to exercise willpower may be tricky. However, it is a skill that will help you in all areas of your life. There are numerous benefits for your mind, body, pocketbook, and lifestyle to learning the value of waiting.
10. Teaches Benefit Of Hard Work
Learning how to delay gratification will teach valuable lessons about the true benefit of hard work. For example, saving your money instead of spending it frivolously will give you a renewed appreciation for the work you put into earning that money. Reckless spending is usually the result of giving into the desire for instant gratification. Not having something you can proudly show for the work makes it hard to value your paycheck. In turn, it makes it harder to find job satisfaction. Delaying gratification reinforces the value of your work.
Saving up for something over several paychecks is hard work in and of itself. There are countless temptations to dip into those savings for something else. The longer it takes to save the more temptations you may face. Continuing to save rather than caving to the pressure to spend your money elsewhere requires prioritization and careful goal creation. Once you have made your eventual purchase, you will appreciate the hard work that went into obtaining it. Finally having a highly sought after item will reinforce the importance of prioritization and goal making as well. Learning to delay gratification will help you discover the true value of the work you need to put into obtaining the item or service. Not only will you appreciate your on-the-job work, but you can also feel proud for your ability to wait, and to prioritize appropriately.
9. Develops Motivation
In the late 1960s and early 1970s a psychologist named Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments on children about self-control and delaying gratification. These results are often reported together using the term the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. The subjects were children around the age of six when the experiments began, and researchers followed the children throughout their lives. The test itself was very simple. The kids were left alone in a room with a marshmallow for fifteen minutes. If they did not eat the marshmallow, they were told they could get two of them later. Simply put, the children had to choose between instant gratification and a potential payoff if they wait. Researchers found that the children who waited grew up to have higher levels of self-motivation than their peers who did not wait. As a result, they had fewer behavioral issues, were more dependable, and had much better grades. These types of results followed them into adulthood, with the children who were able to wait having better earning jobs.
The lesson the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment teaches is that being able to delay gratification leads to greater success later on in life. It reinforces the importance of having a lot of self-motivation. This lesson is simple, but learning it early has powerful benefits. Applying it to your own life as an adult can seem hard, but you can use the same sorts of strategies the children in the experiment used. Distraction was a common one, as was focusing on the end goal instead of the temporary temptation.
8. Learn And Teach Impulse Control
Impulse control is something many of us struggle with, regardless of age or status. However, learning how to control our impulses is crucial to day-to-day life. At best, poor impulse control can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and financial difficulties. At worst, impulse control can lead to reckless behavior and addictions. Learning to delay your own gratification, and to plan for future events or purchases can help reinforce good impulse control. Seeing that there is a benefit to waiting can reinforce the advantages of impulse control. Over time, practicing delayed gratification will lead better control over your impulses in just about every area of your life. In some cases there is a bit of freedom that comes from being able to act impulsively. However, those circumstances are limited and can only present themselves if you are able to practice impulse control on a regular basis.
Teaching your child impulse control is one of the most valuable lessons you can give them. It is much easier to learn if you learn young, before getting into the habit of practicing poor impulse control. Children are sponges, however, and despite your best intentions, if they see you behaving impulsively it will encourage them to do the same. If they see the enjoyment that comes from not behaving impulsively and delaying gratification, they will pick up on that behavior instead. Be careful of even seemingly minor things like picking up a pack of gum impulsively at the cash register. Children see everything, so try and reinforce impulse control lessons where you can. Over time, they will understand the value of waiting.
7. Live Healthier
Delaying gratification can impact every area of your life, including your health and well-being. One way most of us indulge in instant gratification is through the foods we eat. In a misguided effort to save time, most of us turn to fast food. Fast food is available just about everywhere, and can give you a meal that you can eat now without waiting. Unfortunately, fast food is incredibly unhealthy. Caving to the temptation of instant gratification by ordering it on a regular basis can lead to health risks later on down the road. It is much better for you and your body to delay that gratification and spend the time cooking healthy food instead. You can make a meal that is just as flavorful and healthier.
Delaying gratification can also have huge benefits to your mental health. Repeated studies have shown that people who delay gratification are happier and enjoy life more. These individuals also report feeling calmer in general, and more goal-orientated. Individuals who suffer from mental health challenges in particular can benefit from learning how to delay gratification. While it is initially uncomfortable to delay acting on those immediate impulsive urges, over time, it encourages the individual to develop healthier coping mechanisms. As a result, they report fewer distressing symptoms and greater adaptability. Resisting those impulsive urges also leads to a better financial situation. This lack of financial stress can also have huge benefits to your mental health, and in some cases you physical health as well.
6. Save Money
In most cases, resisting the urge to impulsively purchase a product now will save you money later. Even if you decide to save up for that item or experience, you may still find that you are able to do so and save money at the same time. Some consumers turn to credit cards or in-store lines of credit to get immediate access to a product or service. Use of credit in this way can often lead to high interest rates and expensive annual or monthly fees. Choosing to save up for an item and purchasing it without relying on credit saves you a lot of money. You may even decide that you no longer want that particular item after saving for a few weeks. That can turn into extra money for something else you may be waiting to purchase.
Over time, resisting your impulse to buy something immediately can save you a lot of money. Turning down random chocolate bars and other impulse purchases can sometimes turn out to be a savings of fifty dollars per month. When you save up to purchase an item or experience, you also have a bigger window to take advantage of any sales or deals. Saving for an item rather than purchasing it on the spot will always result in bigger savings to you. You may also find that delaying gratifications saves you money in surprising areas as well. For example, cooking healthy foods at home instead of buying them pre-cooked can save you a surprising amount of money each month.