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What is Delayed Gratification?

Delayed gratification, what is it? will you be more successful in life for focusing on delayed gratification rather than instant gratification?

What is Delayed Gratification

What is delayed gratification

It simply means choosing to delay gratification, in order to benefit the future. For example choosing not to buy something in the moment to prevent getting into debt to benefit your future self.

Many successful people have great ability in delayed gratification, they are able to put their future goals first before the current moment in time. Delayed gratification is also connected to having good willpower.

There are many other examples of delaying gratification, eating or drinking for instant gratification is posing a major health risk for countries like the US and UK. People are being tempted more and more with instant fixes in all areas of life, and it’s getting harder and harder to resist.

The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

This experiment was led by Walker Mischel a psychologist at Stanford University. The experiment involved offering children a treat, a marshmallow or a pretzel, which they could eat immediately after the tester left the room. However they were told that if they waited until the tester came back into the room they would be offered an even greater reward.

Most of the children were able to wait for the return of the tester. Only a few of the children couldn’t wait, and took the treat as soon as the tester left.

The children that took part in this experiment were monitored for a period of time after. The children that were able to resist and show delayed gratification were getting better grades, and overall they were psychologically more stable, and they were doing better in almost all areas of life.

There have been many studies in delaying gratification, these studies show a connection between delayed gratification and academic success and success in life in general. The ones that had trouble to control their impulses had higher rates of alcohol and other forms of addiction, there was also a link to higher rates of crime and incarceration.

So based on these studies it seems clear about the importance of being able to delay gratification. Is it something that is genetic or is it a learned skill? the truth is a bit of both.

At the end of the day we all have a choice, we can choose to have something now, or we can wait and look to improve our futures. However companies and businesses are catering to the human desire for instant gratification, which is making it harder to resist.

Tips for delayed gratification
  • Distraction is proven to be an effective way of increasing our ability to resist something. Also thinking about things in a different way, for example if your are tempted to buy something, instead of thinking about owning the item, think about the item itself, the color, the shape, the details, it will distract you from wanting to own it.
  • Think about the future ramifications of your decisions.
  • Think about why you actually need something, break down your impulses for instantly wanting something.

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