How to delay gratification + a mindset to get over cravings
How do I delay instant gratification is a question I get asked often. It’s not always easy. But, if we have a different way of thinking about gratification it’ll be much easier. This in turn, will help us get over cravings.
Let’s get to it.
A few weeks ago, right smack in the middle of the day, the opportunity to ride a Segway was presented to me. I had never ridden one before and I really wanted to do it. Unfortunately, my schedule was packed that afternoon and evening…
DAMN! What to do?
Well, I began adjusting my schedule so I could make it happen. However, I’d be squeezing it in between two things I couldn’t miss.
My friend suggested I do it the next day.
I was so caught up in the moment, that didn’t even occur to me. I was so pumped up! I HAD to ride the Segway that day. Not the following day. I wanted to ride it RIGHT THEN AND THERE!
Once I realized that I’d be cutting it very close with meetings, I decided the following morning would have to work.
I’m a big believer in scheduling events and creating things to look forward to. Anticipation is a HUGE key to happiness.
When it comes to happiness there are four stages: Anticipation, savoring the actual event or moment as we experience it, expressing our pleasure to ourselves or those with us, and reflecting on the fun and happy memory.
I think my favorite stage of happiness is…wait for it….hold on….give me a second…anticipation. (See what I did there?)
Anticipation can make our lives better. And sometimes, I enjoy the anticipation of an event more so than the actual event I’m anticipating! (And I’m okay with that.)
Whether it’s planning trips or figuring out fun plans for the week or weekend, setting things up for ourselves to look forward to will make us happier.
I try to create anticipation in my life as often as possible. (In fact, I’ve been looking forward to writing this very post for a few weeks now. But I purposely waited.)
Question: If you had the chance to go to your favorite vacation spot this coming weekend or in four weeks, what would you choose?
I’d choose going away in four weeks. Why? This way, I get to look forward to the vacation for FOUR WHOLE weeks! It’s like a four week vacation plus the vacation itself.
Question: If you had the chance to go to your favorite restaurant today or in two weeks from now, what would you choose?
I’d choose going in two weeks from now. Why? Because I get to look forward to my favorite meal for two whole weeks!
Question: If you had the chance to indulge in your favorite food treat today or this weekend, what would you choose?
I’d choose this weekend. Why? Because I can anticipate how tasty it’ll be all week long!
I’m an idea guy. I have binders full of ideas. And before I started MBT back in February of 2007 (crazy, it’s been 7+ years!), I was constantly thinking about ideas I wanted to pursue. But only one kept popping up again and again and again. Only one actually caused me to not be able to sleep because I was so excited by it. The others? If it wasn’t for my binder, they’d be long gone out of my memory.
Sometimes, ideas don’t seem all that compelling after we noodle on them for a while. And it’s a wise idea to noodle on them – otherwise, we’ll do things without really thinking it through.
My point? Sometimes, we’re tempted to eat something simply because it’s there. If it wasn’t in front of us, it wouldn’t even be a thought.
When I finally went on the Segway that following day, I was thrilled. I had an absolute blast. And the best part was that I got to look forward to it the whole day before.
Sometimes, we gotta delay instant gratification for future happiness.
Feel like eating your favorite food treat because it’s been a long day?
What if you decide that you’ll strategically allow yourself (I say strategically because this is a conscious choice, not an impulsive one) to indulge in a few days?
In fact, planning ahead when we’re going to eat our favorite treat is a very strategic move. It allows us to anticipate eating it and it also allows us to…pause before we indulge when there are unexpected treats. Plus, knowing that we’ll be indulging soon makes the temporary discomfort more tolerable.
The coolest part is that by then we’ll have so much momentum on our side, that we usually don’t even want to indulge. And what if we still really want to? At least it was a mindful choice that gave us an extra boost of happiness (having something to look forward to) and it gave us a compelling reason to not give in right away.
So next time you want to indulge why not “Segway It,” until later on. (ALERT! Yes, that is the new term to help us get over cravings.)
I anticipate reading your emails already. I wanted xyz but I decided to “Segway It” until this weekend and if I still really want it, I’ll allow myself to have a few, guilt free.