This essay is an excerpt from my book, The Way of The Karma Yogi .
Our current society is designed for us to fall into the trap of instant gratification. We end up making choices that don’t support our overall well-being and our quest for a successful and happy life. We are being conditioned for instant gratification day in and day out. The advent of the Internet and mobile apps has made unimaginable things possible. Entertainment is a remote button away and food is a few clicks away. Even socializing and dating problems can ostensibly be resolved by our magical devices.
These days, all the information and services are literally available at our fingertips, and in the blink of an eye. Our attention span has diminished and our will to wait is being decimated day by day without our realizing it. In the midst of this, the virtue and worth of delayed gratification have been lost. To the uninitiated, delayed gratification is synonymous with burning in hell. It is paramount to educate ourselves about the reasons why delayed gratification is a better path for our well-being.
Firstly, our current smartphone culture has significantly reduced our patience. We want instant results all the time, and this has deteriorated our tolerance to circumstances when things don’t work out for us. If we want to be successful for the long haul and develop a healthy mindset for that, we must distance ourselves from instant gratification. Impatience never commands success. Another great advantage is that delayed gratification helps us save our time and money that we otherwise would have squandered away. If we wait for a considerable time before buying something, it will end up being more valuable and meaningful to us.
Also, we need to limit our consumption of fake foods. Oftentimes, we are tempted by food choices around us and we give in. We must learn how to control our impulses, otherwise they will end up controlling us. Embracing delayed gratification removes guilt out of the equation. If we set a meal aside per week where we can eat whatever we want, we can indulge in that unhealthy meal guilt-free. It’s like a reward for following our stringent routine every week.
Now, it is foolish if we go overboard and we have to be vigilant that we don’t sabotage the work that we have put in over a week’s time in terms of dieting and fitness routines. Delayed gratification also enhances our experience. If we have been craving for that calorie-rich, delicious dessert all week, our anticipation has skyrocketed, and now when we have it, we will relish it in a way we had never imagined. Our goal should be to focus our attention on doing things that bring us long-term happiness rather than short-term pleasure. Always remember, pleasure is ephemeral; happiness is ethereal.