“Ones ability to delay immediate gratification in pursuit of a long-term vision, is equal to their likely hood of achieving dreams beyond their wildest imaginations.”
– Reece Pater
I want it now!
There is a distinct hurdle to jump when in the pursuit of a higher practice. It comes in the form of intense cravings for the known or familiar. You would have no doubt experienced this phenomenon when attempting to read more, exercise more, eat healthier, break up with somebody or change anything in your life for the betterment of your experience. Your ability to overcome these magnetic type forces, is very much the make or break when it comes to lasting change.
It’s not your fault
Giving in to your cravings is inevitable in the beginnings of re-structuring your life. But what must be understood, is that your mind has created and carved your familiar or current patterns into your brains hard-drive, and embedded responses to situations and stimuli based on past functionality. These are called habits and they are executed unconsciously until you become aware of how they are operating. To re-wire your brain and create new habitual patterns how you want to create them, you need time and a clear focus. All of your installed negative habits are there to serve immediate gratification.
Firstly, this is a concept exploring the ability to ignore immediate satisfaction with the knowing that at some point in the future, you will experience greater happiness or purpose because of it. Anyone can delay gratification once or twice (saying no to junk food for example), but doing it consistently requires a lot of inner homework. A long-term commitment to delaying immediate comfort in support of a higher vision comes down to your reason (vision of what you are wanting as a result), meaning, and the happiness you feel when you imagine this result.
If you are not happy when you think of what you are working towards, you have little chance of sustainable change. This happiness and purpose must be derived from the foundations of your ultimate vision.
Reason + Meaning. Your reason for delaying gratification must be found in the underlying meaning it provides your soul with. Your meaning should be found in your deepest held values. So if you are unsure of what you value, then finding a clear reason and meaning for delaying gratification will be very difficult.
I will use myself as an example taking my pursuit of minimalism to demonstrate my point.
How do I delay gratification through minimalism?
By holding back on purchasing material items that I know I don’t need or have an everyday purpose for.
I wish to keep my possessions low, so I can appreciate what I have more intensely. This short circuits my conditioned pursuit of consumption and waste.
This makes me feel like I am servicing the planet in a small way. I am reducing my contribution to carbon emissions and landfills. I feel much more purposeful as I think much less about how I can acquire things, and more about how I can create life to service my highest values in life. Thus being continuous learning, conscious spending, connecting with others, working on my relationships and keeping my mind clear from clutter.
Does delaying my spending and consumption in this way make me happy?
Absolutely! It is not always easy. There is a constant barrage of advertising of cool stuff that tempts my wants. But I am much much happier when I resist the urge, in comparison to giving in. I know that in the future my minimalist ways will open the door to financial independence, and the freedom to spend on what I value without any worry. Things that will greatly improve the quality of my family’s life in the long-run.
Hidden happiness and the snowball effect
As you can see from my example above, ultimately my practice of delaying immediate gratification on spending and consuming, greatly increases my happiness and quality of life. The added bonus of this, is that once you can master this in just one area that you feel strongly connected to, you will find it easier to adapt to other areas. I initially started with my drinking habit back when I was 21. Before you know it you will be successfully overhauling and re-programming your entire life. I like to call this Intentional Living. Intentional because you will be creating a deep and meaningful response to all areas of your life. This will increase your gratitude and invite more and more happiness into your everyday life, pooling into your relationships, spiritual practice, exercise practice etc.
So you see, if you are not happy about delaying gratification, you will be severely destroying any chances of improving your life.
Have you ever thought about your deeper reasons for making change? Have you written them down and got a clear focus?