Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saving the Best ‘til Last

How do you eat your evening meals? Is it vegetables first, then the carbohydrates, then finally the meat (if you’re not vegetarian)? I’ve always preferred to save the best on my plate until last--some of my family eat the same way, whilst the others think we’re just plain weird.

Delayed Gratification is quite simply one of the best little secrets in life. It would be great to be able to employ the strategies of delaying gratification more, so life can be fuller for it.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Psychology, Delay of Gratification is defined as “The ability to forgo an immediate pleasure or reward in order to gain a more substantial one later.”[1]

It’s an attribution of the socially and emotionally mature, for it takes sacrifice to go without; to pay now and live later, not the other way around.

Yet everyone struggles with this sort of self-control, in one way or even several ways. No matter the virtue we develop in life we contend in an ongoing sense with a certain amount of vice. It’s inherent to our human nature if we’re honest about it.

But saving the best until last is such a faith-held behavioural construct with rewards to freedom, according to Julie Andrews:

“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” And in terms of our own truth we might not often see it that way, but this is actually the way of things.

And there’s a great paradoxical alignment here between freedom and death i.e. death to self in the moment.

The apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church regarding this, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” –2 Corinthians 4:10-12 (TNIV).

When ‘death is at work in us,’ we not only see life working for and in others from our sacrifice, to the glorification of God, we also reap freedom from ourselves i.e. freedom from the morally weak individual or ‘me at my worst.’

The final frontier for self-discipline is beyond the faith construct, however, as it exists in the strength and will of the mind to simply say “no” (or “yes”) consistently at the appropriate time and given situation. The mind here supports faith and adds confidence to it.

Delay of gratification is the great solution to one of the Western world’s biggest, most powerful temptations; to take what we can, now.

In what areas of your life could you do with more delayed gratification?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] “Delay of Gratification.” eNotes.com. Retrieved 1 June 2009. http://www.enotes.com/gale-psychology-encyclopedia/delay-gratification

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