As human beings, we all care about similar things. We want to be happy, wealthy, establish deep and meaningful relationships, and lead a healthy life. However, these things don’t come all at once. They also don’t come that easily. Unfortunately, we are currently living in a hyper-consumerism world in which everyone is telling us that we have to get everything instantly. Instant gratification is put on a pedestal – it’s the new norm. However, this kind of approach to life only gives short term satisfaction. It quickly becomes repetitive and can’t sustain itself. On top of that, it can easily turn into a problem where people constantly need instant gratification to feel good about themselves. Today we are going to talk about a different approach, in which we see the big pictures for ourselves.

Everyone Wants Gratification

First of let’s make it crystal clear what gratification is. Simply put, gratification is the pleasure or satisfaction we get when fulfilling our desires. For example, if someone loves chocolate, getting a good chocolate bar and eating it is a form of gratification. However, gratification isn’t just about physical satisfaction. It’s also about mental desires, goals, dreams, achievements, and praise. For example, as kids we all largely want to impress our parents or peers. When we learn something new that impresses them we feel gratification when they praise us for it. Most psychological theories and models agree that humans have a driving force behind gratification. It fulfils us and gives us a feeling of well-being, confidence, and overall happiness. When these needs aren’t met, the natural response is tension and anxiety and pursuance of different avenues for that gratification.

Sometimes the "Living in The Moment" Mentality is Wrong

According to the “Pleasure Principle” by Freud, pleasure is one of the main forces driving our behaviour. He sees it as a biological mechanism created to help us survive. That’s why children crave instant gratification. They need love, human touch, and food to survive and stay healthy. On the other hand, he also talks about the “Reality Principle”, which refers to our ability to go past instant gratification and delay it. That’s usually a trait of adults – we can ignore or surpass instant gratification better. For example, instead of wasting money each day on expensive food and drinks, we can save up money to buy something that has more value to us. However, all our basic instincts are usually met in this modern world we live in, this doesn’t always stop us from pursuing them further. If someone looks for instant gratification in food, they can easily over-eat and indulge in this instinct, but over time that can negatively affect their overall physical and mental health. It will lead to other aspects of their lives suffering. A cycle forms where the outcome causes unhappiness and the root of happiness is also the cause of the outcome. That’s why focusing solely on instant gratification can, over time, become really harmful.

The Concept of Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification is the term used for delaying immediate pleasure and having the patience to wait for a reward in the future. Delayed gratification means ignoring instant gratification and waiting for greater, more valuable rewards. Not all delayed gratification is equal. First of all, it might be different in terms of how long it’s “delayed.” Creating a schedule where you only eat sweets once per week to lose weight is a shorter investment. On the other hand, putting in months of tough training to achieve a change in your physical self is a longer-term investment that ultimately brings greater gratification but is often overshadowed with the implementation of non-sustainable actions. Too much pleasure can make us lazy, kill our ambitions, and leave us wanting for more.

Challenges of Waiting

To practice delayed gratification, you’ll need a strong ability to control impulses and suppress your urges. That’s not an easy thing to do. After all, this is why people are spending money more recklessly than ever. That’s especially true if you’re used to instant gratification. Unfortunately, most people today are. We are used to buying and getting things right away. There’s no value in delaying things and waiting for something bigger. Even if you are able to delay your gratification for some time, a lot of people can’t push it through until the end. That’s especially true if they are working on something big and things don’t go as they were planned. Lots of people lose motivation and go for the easy way out.

How to Improve Your "Patience"

Delayed gratification isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Luckily there are ways that you can improve your ability to delay pleasure. First of all, in many cases, you can’t determine when the gratification will come. That’s how things usually go when setting long-term goals. If gratification depends on someone else like your teacher or boss, make sure to ask them to give you a time-frame or a deadline. On the other hand, if you yourself don’t know when the reward will come, set a timeline yourself. On the other hand, it’s also important to set a realistic deadline. For example, if you want to lose weight, you can’t expect to lose 5kgs per week. When you fail the first time, you might lose your motivation.

Benefits of Delayed Gratification

More satisfaction

The more work you put in, the higher the returns, simple as that. When you get something really easy, it starts to lose its value and give less pleasure. However, when you put in the hard work – you’ll feel like you really earned that gratification.

More confidence/willpower

When you set higher expectations and goals for yourself, you’ll have to put in a lot more work, but you’ll feel better about yourself and be ready for future challenges when you achieve them.

Learn to do more with less and enjoy life

When you are focused on little instant gratification things and get them all the time, you start to take life for granted. Nothing gives you pleasure, and everything becomes repetitive. Delayed gratification gives you more pleasure with lower intervals, teaching you just how valuable life is and doing something new.


Delayed gratification works. You just need to get yourself on board with it and start practising it. It will take a while before you get used to it, but it’s well worth it in the long run.