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What Is Delayed Gratification?

What Is Delayed Gratification?

Is it just us or does it seem like everything in today’s culture promotes instant gratification? Like, seriously. Don’t get us wrong, we love tech. But new and improved technology, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and constant WiFi connections allow people to get what they want, when they want, with just a tap or click. 

It’s actually kind-of crazy when you think about it. And although there are many benefits of instant gratification (one being that it’s instant, of course), it can actually be a source of unnecessary frustration. Like sometimes, it’s just too easy and it makes it less meaningful. Whereas when you have to work or wait for it, it just seems more gratifying. 

And that brings us to delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is beneficial when it comes to achieving your goals and it’s a essential life skill that people these days need to learn. And when we say ‘people these days’, we literally mean everyone. Delayed gratification is applicable to people across all ages. 

So, let’s go over what delayed gratification even is, what the benefits are, and how to actually incorporate this skill into your everyday life. 

What Is Delayed Gratification?

Delayed gratification, also known as deferred gratification, is defined as “the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future.”

Basically, it means slowing down, not taking the easy, low-hanging fruit, and seeing what comes later. In most cases, with a little self-control and patience, the end result is much more valuable than the immediate gratification you might feel. And, the delayed gratification tends to last much longer and feel so much more rewarding. 

Whereas, the immediate gratification wears off pretty much just as quickly as it came. It’s fleeting and can leave you feeling kinda down. Nobody wants that. 

Developing this skill is essential when it comes to honing in your self-control and reaching both your short and long term goals. And the best part is, mastering this skill comes with a ton of benefits

Delayed Gratification Benefits

♡ Greater impulse control

Do you struggle with impulse control? Common impulses include substance abuse, eating, drinking, and even things like irritability, checking your phone, and so on. Learning how to delay your gratification can help you learn to control those impulses by teaching you to resist the urge. Then, when you finally indulge in one of your favorite things, it means so much more and the results are much more satisfying. 

♡ Improved decision making skills

Hindsight is always 20/20…amiright? This is why developing the ability to delay gratification is key to improving your overall decision making skills. Instead of making the quick decision that leads to a quick reward, you learn to take your time when making decisions for the best possible outcome. And in most cases, when you take your time making decisions, rather than making rash decisions, the rewards are much greater and the lessons learned are more gratuitous. 

♡ Better interpersonal relationships

Interpersonal relationships are always better when we avoid making rash decisions in the heat of the moment and when we resist the temptation to speak before we think. This is where delayed gratification can really come into play.

Like sure, it feels really great to tell your boss off when they’re being rude or to totally unload on your S/O when you’re arguing. But, let’s be honest – this isn’t productive and usually leads to both parties feeling like total shit later. 

Instead, delaying that gratification often leads to serious moments of clarity. And instead of saying that totally rude comment, you will actually come to a more realistic solution to the issue that makes everyone feel so much better. This applies to parents, your significant other, friends, coworkers – literally everyone. 

Delayed Gratification benefits

♡ Improved finance management

This one is pretty intuitive. When you are able to delay gratification by saving money, the benefits are almost always way better later. The basic principle here is that when you save money on things that give you fleeting pleasure or happiness, you are able to spend more money on things that actually benefit you. Things that give you real joy and satisfaction for longer periods of time. 

Delayed Gratification Examples

Here are a few examples of the benefits of delayed gratification to help you guys better understand how this concept can improve different aspects of your life: 

♡ Finances 

+ Instead of risking harm to your credit score and getting an expensive car loan for just any car you can afford, you save and wait for a car you really want. Then, you really enjoy each and every drive in that car. 

+ While you love spending money on fast food, you might choose to refrain from spending money on fast food throughout the week. Then, you can treat yourself to a nice, delicious, and healthy meal at your favorite expensive restaurant over the weekend. Much more gratuitous than lame fast food.  

♡ Relationships

+ Instead of responding impulsively to criticism from friends and family, you take some time to think about what was said and formulate a better, and more productive response. Then, everyone in the situation is happier. 

♡ Physical pleasures

+ You guys are gonna like this one. Instead of ‘getting off’ right off the bat, invest some extra time in the foreplay. The more foreplay now, the better the ‘big O’ later. 

+ Instead of spending a small amount of money on a short vacation now, you could save for a bigger, better, longer and more exciting vacation later in the year. Nicer and longer vacay? We’ll take it.

♡ Career 

+ You can go out drinking the night before your big presentation. Or, you can practice delayed gratification by preparing for your presentation, nailing it, and then reaping the bigger and better career awards later. 

♡ Health 

+ By avoiding the instant gratification of purchasing junk food at the grocery store, you will eat healthier and feel better later when you eat at home. And you might even lose weight (if you want, of course). So, it’s a win-win. 

How To Delay Gratification

♡ Just do it 

Honestly, the hardest part of doing anything is just getting started, right? So, just do it. Start by identifying the parts of your life where you experience immediate gratification. Then, make a quick list of reasons why delaying this gratification could benefit you. 

♡ Start small

Start small by making small rules in the beginning. And once you become more practiced in the world of delayed gratification, you can start to incorporate bigger parts of your life. For example, start by reducing your fast food consumption and reducing your time on social media. Then, when you finally do indulge, it will be so much sweeter. 

How To Delay Gratification

♡ Practice gratitude

If you guys know Lauryn, then you know she is BIG on gratitude. When good things happen, it’s extremely important to give thanks to the Universe, or whoever or whatever you feel the need to thank for your blessings. It’s just essential. It makes us appreciate what we have and it gives us the motivation to keep pushing forward. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again….gratitude is the attitude

♡ Stay consistent

It might sound cliché, but there really is something to the saying “consistency is key.” As with any other skill or lesson you are trying to master, you have to practice. And of course, there will be times that are harder than others. But, on the other hand, there will be plenty of times that are easier than others as well. 

So, stay consistent and rest assured that the gratification at the end of the road is so much better than that instant and ever-fleeting gratification. And when times get tough, remember to remind yourself of your end goals. Write down your end goals where you can see them, set reminders, and don’t be afraid to manifest that shit with some affirmations too.

Delayed Gratification And Success

So, with all this being said, the main point to remember here is that delayed gratification can help you achieve greater success in the long run. This goes for all aspects of your life, whether it be relationships, education, career, finances, and so on. And, this goes for the kiddos too. Just think about the Marshmallow Test. (If you’re not sure what that is, check out the link above! There you will find a ton of info on the original researcher Walter Mischel and how the OG Marshmallow test was moderated.)

But, the point of the Marshmallow experiment is: research shows that children who are able to comprehend and master this skill at an early age tend to have more success in several aspects of life as they age. This includes SAT scores, decreased likelihood of obesity, and even decreased risk of substance abuse. Really, the benefits are endless for both children and adults. But, the sooner you start, the better. 

Delaying gratification does not mean delaying happiness. 

Delaying gratification means choosing more happiness later over fleeting happiness now. See the difference? This is something we suggest incorporating into your life as soon as humanly possible. The benefits are just too overwhelming to ignore this concept. 

Until next time, let us know how your delayed gratification journey is going! And don’t be afraid to hit us with all your serious and curious questions about this topic!!! We love hearing from you guys, especially when it comes to cool concepts like this one. Chat soon.

x, The Skinny Confidential team.

+ stalk this post on how to get shit done

++ check out the team’s favorite purchases for June.


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