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socks and cat

delayed gratification - a lost art?

I was having a conversation with some one about this, and I was wondering how other people feel about it. It seems like delaying gratification is a lost art in our culture. People eat what they want to eat when they want to eat it. They buy what they want, even if they can't afford it. And most people that I know, are sleeping with the people they date within the span of just a few dates. As a culture, Americans seem to simply grab what they want when they want it.

I feel like a bit of a freak because of my delayed gratification ethic. Note that it is an ethic, and not ALWAYS in practice. But I strive for it. To me, delaying gratification is one of the important components in a fulfilling and stable life. But why do I feel like I'm the only one doing it? Am I the only person that saves for years and years for a car rather than going into debt for one? Am I the only person who eats healthy, and saves the bad for you treats for only a couple times per week or few times per month? Am I the only person out there who doesn't have sex with some one just because I'm dating them and I find them sexually attractive? And granted I purchase impulsively and have little self control when it comes to shopping, but I do so with money I have and never go into debt to indulge the impulsiveness. I'm inherently lazy and if I had my way I might sit on the couch all day and eat bon bons and watch tv. But I wait until after my 8 to 14 hour work day before I do that (and they're probably sugar free bon bons I'm eating).

Am I a freak? Or are there others in our country and in our culture who see the benefits to putting off what they want until the appropriate and most beneficial time? Has anyone else tried this with any aspect of your lives (food, sex, purchasing things, sports, cleaning the house, homework, anything at all), even one? And if so, what were the results? Or if you didn't do it with some aspect of your life, were there negative results?


You're not a freak at all (unless I am, too). plus, there's that sense of antici

I think a big problem a lot of Americans have is distinguishing between Needs and Wants. (I include myself in this.) I spent $800 on a freezer this week. It was a business need and while it pained me to do so, I'll make enough income with it to have it paid off fairly quickly. I could have saved my money and paid cash, but then my business plan would be behind, I'd be a stress-ball etc.

Part of me thinks I need a new winter coat. The reality is that I have several that are perfectly fine and will get me though the winter in good shape. I'm just bored with them. So they are in the Want category right now. Occasionally Needs and Wants are the same, but usually not. The challenge is that recognizing the difference is a subtle art lost on most people.

Seriously, though...it's my debt allergy. I didn't buy a house until I had 20% down (and I lived in some *holes*), and bought the car last week knowing that my back pay (last check tomorrow) will let me have it paid off by mid-December. By driving my 14-year-old-thrashed wee beastie.

And...the anticipation thing *is* true. If you know what I mean, and I think you do. ;)
I think we would be very compatible. :)
Oh, I think so, too...certainly in the ways in which most couples split...

Of course, I'd bore you senseless, but I'm accustomed to to the "Jim's such a nice guy, but....." ;)
I have a friend who's currently saving so he can buy a house. He hates where he's living right now but is willing to endure it until he can financially afford to move into a better place.

Me? I'm super impulsive and I regret it immensely. I've been working extra hard at telling myself that no, I don't need that pair of shoes and no, I don't need that soda either. Its getting better, but its still hard.... especially when I'm living in a country that keeps telling me to buy, buy, buy more stuff whenever I leave my home.
You make a good point. We live in a society in which there is pressure everywhere to buy buy buy and the advertisements everywhere make it seem as if we are less of a person if we don't buy certain things so we can look a certain way.
I do what I can with the means I have, but I have discovered that buying on credit is sometimes the only option I have - my car is a testament to this. I try very hard to live within my means and to be responsible, but it can be hard.
I don't think secured debt, such as cars and homes, counts. That's just something you have to do if you want a car or home. I also think that if you don't have the money for medical bills or car repairs, that using a credit card to pay for things is impulsive or wrong. I was referring more to buying vacations and meals out and other unnecessary items with credit cards.
I know, I wasn't trying to play the victim - sorry. :)
But even then...delayed gratification is a positive quality...slow buildup, versus thrashing to the quickest finish? Just another boy, questing in a world he barely understands....
I'll never delay gratification purely for it's own sake; there's got to be a practical reason to do so, otherwise it's just masochism.
Agreed. If there was no consequence to our bodies for living on nothing but pie, oreos and candy, then I would in fact not delay gratification and live exclusively on sweets.

I think delayed gratification is almost always about avoiding consequences.
Ehh...with eating food, I agree. With saving money, I also agree.

But with, say, the sex thing, especially the folks who decide to wait for marriage...
Well, I just have a hard time understanding that. If everyone involved is ready, willing, and able, I'm not sure that how much time has passed is really relevant.

I think more than delayed gratification, what's genuinely important is forethought and a sense of personal responsibility. Delayed gratification is not in and of itself a virtue; it's a means to an end.
With sex, I think it's timeframe; yes, those who wait for marriage don't think parallel to me....but...to make someone dangle at the edge of....


I don't think about it as delaying gratification. I try to live so that I am happy about what I have at that moment and try to release my need for things I don't have. But when I have the means to buy something new that I know I will enjoy, or I know that I can eat something and it will not be harmful to my body (and I can afford to eat sweets every day, given the rest of my diet and my exercise regimen), I will do it. I just try to live in balance and with self-control. I don't have any debt, etc. I think it's the same idea that you live by, just expressed differently.
I delay the gratification of a clean house all the time! :p

Writing music is definitely a delayed gratification process. It takes loads of effort, energy, and brain power and after weeks of spending that time I might have a couple of songs that make me happy but aren't finished. It's been a long time coming, years actually, but I think I am going to have a finished album soon!

I believe that anything you put into your body that is not health food should be purely decadent and delicious. If it isn't I won't eat it. The problem with that is now I have a boyfriend who likes to take me out to decadent meals and we share decadent desserts. I will not veg out in front of the t.v. with a bag of chips or crappy sugar cookies. Eating mindlessly is not something I believe in. When I am not in constant pain and am on a regular exercise regimen I tend to turn into a bit of a health nut. I do limit my intake of decadent foods. I plan what would be the very best thing to eat at the end of the week and then I don't hesitate when I get to indulge!

"you wait...and you....well you have less sex"

Can't you find a happy middle?

If you buy a car impulsively (without having saved at all) you'll probably end up in a stressful hole...

But if you wait YEARS to buy the car....what opportunities might you have missed out on while delaying your happiness and convenience?

Buy the car when you have enough saved up to be comfortable.

Watch TV and eat bon bon's in the middle of the day....as long as you get back to work.

Eat whatever friggin food you want as long as YOU feel healthy.

Have sex in the relationship when it feels right to you and them....you wait...and you....well you have less sex.

Life is really way too short.
No time to read all the comments, but yes, you've underscored a fundamental issue with our society. Not that this means you aren't craxy .... ;)


I'm more a grasshopper then an ant.
I'm always a now and never later kind of person.
It has it's ups and downs.
a balance between the two ways of being is probably best.