The Power of Delaying Gratification: Why You Should do It, and How

People who delay their gratification for a later day or time, end up having more success in all areas of life; financial, health, career and relationships. That’s a huge deal. So, what exactly is delay of gratification? It is the choice of not doing something now for something bigger later on. What you are doing is choosing self-discipline over the ease that distractions bring along with them.

Here is an example. You have homework tonight but you are tired and want to take a nap, you had a very long day. Instant gratification says, “a nap right now would feel great, go for it.” Delay of gratification says, “I will delay that nap so I can do my homework now in order to obtain something later on” (in this case, a degree).

In 1972 one of the biggest research studies on delay of gratification was launched. It is known as the “Marshmallow Study.” It was a longitudinal study of 40 years. Researchers had young children come in, sit down and then they placed a marshmallow in front of them. Researchers told the children they would be leaving the room and if they did not eat the marshmallow while they were gone, when the researcher got back, they would get two marshmallows. When the researchers left the room, many of the children ate the marshmallow instantly. Some children paced back and forth and then ate the marshmallow anyway. Other children, delayed the instant gratification of eating the marshmallow now for the bigger token in the end, two marshmallows. Over the course of 40 years the subjects were assessed. The researchers found that those who delayed gratification had higher SAT scores, less substance abuse and obesity, better social skills and better scores in several other life measures.

We live in a world where we want things now. We rush, we have limited patience, no time and can be very impulsive. These behaviors are becoming habit and are rolling into areas of our life which can predict success or failure. We want a promotion, now, we want a degree, now, we want the best marriage, now, we want to be CEO today, we want our bank account filled up this second, we want the newest cell phone, car, and piece of technology, now. We even want answers, now. But the truth is, for just about all these things, we have to work for them. And, we don’t only have to work hard for these things, we have to be patient for them. In order to obtain a degree, a great marriage and that CEO position, you have to often steer away from instant gratification and make a lot of sacrifices and compromises.

Here are 4 tips on how to delay gratification:

  1. Create a Supportive Environment


Be sure you surround yourself with people who are in support of your goals and rid or set boundaries with toxic people who bring you negativity. You want people around you who support your goals so that they will tell you not to take that nap or eat that donut. Instead, they will encourage you to get up and study or go for that run. They pick you up when they see you giving in because they know how important your bigger goal is to you. As you create a supportive environment, don’t just put supportive people in place. Make sure that you also have visualizations all around you so you see your direction all the time. Read blogs, watch YouTube videos, and put up motivating quotes that will inspire you to preserve and not give in to the immediate gratification around you.


  1. Retreat, Rethink and React

When some temptation or impulse creeps in to veer you off for some instant gratification, retreat from the situation before giving in. Hold off and rethink about the situation. Think about the bigger goal in mind, analyze the situation and focus on your end goal for a moment and then go ahead and react. Chances are, backing away and putting things in perspective will drive you away from the temptation of immediacy.


  1. Know your goal

If you don’t know what your goals are, you will be all over the place. Identify your goals and be realistic. Start simplistic. If you have a goal in place that is way over the top, chances are you are going to give in to temptation all around you because you are not ever going to get to that end goal. It is too hard, too big or not realistic for your life. Start small and start realistic- don’t compare your path to someone else’s. Go ahead and create a plan for these realistic goals and stick to it. When you have a plan and a direction you are more likely to stick to this plan even when distractions in the immediate come up.


  1. Reward yourself

Recognize that it is okay here and there to give in a little bit. You can still be spontaneous in life even when striving for goals. You can still have fun and give into instant gratification (that donut, that nap, that reality show) once and a while. The point is not to make these actions of giving in, a habit. But, no matter what you decide, be sure that once you achieve a goal, reflect on the sacrifices you did make and how far you have come and reward yourself. Don’t hurdle the next mountain until you have first celebrated with yourself and those who also sacrificed in order for you to achieve.


Relationships are Rewards Not Solutions

Often when we are in a rut or feeling blue, we firmly believe that the solution to most of our problems is a good relationship with someone. This person would love us, care for us, and share happy moments with us. As wonderful as all of this sounds, a relationship with someone is not going to take away your problems or negative feelings, only you can do that. And, if you depend on someone to take away your problems for you, the relationship isn’t going to have a strong foundation and you might quickly find yourself alone once more. As a consequence you may find yourself internalizing these losses as something that is wrong with you, spiraling down your self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead, stop giving others so much control to make you feel better and re assume that control yourself. So many individuals come to my office with the goal of meeting a partner and soon realize that the strategy has nothing to do with finding a mate. Rather we focus on getting their minds and bodies right and soon thereafter somehow, someway they find themselves having met someone. The reward for getting your mind and body right is a relationship, the relationship is not the solution. When you find that your anger, resentment, depression and low self-esteem have gone away, you emit a different light, you hold yourself a bit more confidently, and consequently you attract new people and new opportunities that will fulfill your life for the right reasons.


Summer Tips for Healthy Living

The summer time is a great time to kick back and treat your body with some love. We tend to over indulge at the holidays, and then spend the first quarter of the year trying to get on track. But, by now, we are on pace with those goals and ready to enjoy some of the fruits of our goal achievements. Here are 8 tips to make your summer more healthy, fun and relaxed!

1. Stay hydrated. The sun has a great way of increasing your chances of heat exhaustion. You are having a great time and before you know it, hours may have passed, and you haven’t taken a sip of the H20. The summer heat can increase your chances of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke- especially because you are consistently sweating to cool off the body. Be sure to replenish your body frequently with water (don’t wait until you are “thirsty”)

2. Watch those “On the go foods.” Summer time is, travel time. Sometimes traveling for camps, sports or that ever exciting yearly family vacation. But, with travel comes “on the go” eating. Make sure when you are eating on the go or fast foods that you opt for something light, fresh and healthy. Think salads, fruit and nuts. Plus, 90% of serotonin is made in your gut. Serotonin is the chemical that makes you happy. Eating fresh and healthy allows the serotonin to distribute through your body better, and low and behold, a happier vacation with the family!

3. Avoid too much sun. Sometimes that summer sun and fun can run you a headache. The sun beating down on your head impacts nerves and tissues, and poof a headache comes to spoil your summer fun. Instead, try staying hydrated, eating light and frequently, avoid direct and long durations of sun exposure, and be cautious of exercising at peak heat hours.

4. Exercise. Staying healthy means exercising. Just be cautious not to overdo it in the high peak sun hours. But we know, it’s no secret, exercise is good for your mind, body and soul. Many of us worked hard since January to kick our bottoms into gear to feel sexy and fit for the summer. Keep that body! The best part, the summer offers you so much opportunity to do outdoor activity. This will make exercising more fun and interesting.

5. Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen protects you from the UV rays of the summer sun. Protecting your skin can protect you from 2nd and 3rd degree burns and cancer. Have fun in the summer sun, but be smart about it.

6. Eat berries. Berries are fresh, healthy, and delicious! Berries have antioxidants and fiber which can aid in prevention of some cancers and keeping your cholesterol low. The evening summer air, strawberries and the beach.

7. Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes, and some sunglasses can block 99% of UV rays. Protect your eyes from serious eye damage like cataracts and even wrinkles just by wearing these cute little accessories.

8. Enjoy and Be Present. One of the most important summer tips is to enjoy the family time. If you have an opportunity to be with friends and family, be present. Unplug, set aside work and set aside negativity. Focus on the small things that life brings to us that provide the biggest value. Enjoy the free things, like sun, love and the ocean. Relax.


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