The Art of Patience & Delayed Gratification

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Imagine you’re going for a walk, and you encounter two paths; one that avoids pain and one which requires you to persevere through difficulty. You look at the difficult path; there is no sign, no confirmation of a reward, no map to guide you; the only things you have to go on are the words of Warren Buffet, who told you, “this is the route to financial independence”. You look at the easy path, and there’s a sign confirming the direction. There is even a map underneath the sign; it says the end is two miles away, and there will be £5,000 and a pack of Doritos waiting for you at the end. Hi, my name is Jason, and I would ask you what path you took, but I can already see the cheese covering your fingers; not even going to ask how it happened.

There is No Time to Wait; We Want it Now

We are often encouraged to seek temporary comforts over long-term solutions, whatever it takes to end our immediate discomfort. People often neglect the value of patience; we want results quickly; because of this, we often miss that sometimes the real solutions to our problems lie in exercising delayed gratification. We have an instinctual urge to avoid pain and seek pleasure to satisfy our biological and psychological needs; this urge opposes our ability to delay gratification when the situation demands it.

Infants can’t help but seek instant pleasure; you should know better and be able to tolerate hard work and discipline to fulfil responsibilities and meet goals. Most of us have a complicated relationship with pleasure, spending enormous amounts of time and money to experience it immediately instead of delaying it.

Delayed gratification is a test of ego-control and resilience; in a self-control dilemma, the impulsive choice will always produce immediate results. We live at a fast pace, making it difficult to slow down and go over things in detail. Sometimes all you need to do is take a time out and breathe; only ever bring a calm and collected self to solve a problem, you’ll be able to analyse your situation/obstacles more objectively.

A famous study was conducted in the 1960s at Stanford University. Children were placed in a room with a marshmallow on a plate and were told if they could wait 15 minutes, they could have another one. It was witnessed that the more patient children also scored higher on standardised tests and were less likely to have behavioural issues. Remember that the children had it easy; they were promised a reward for waiting, but life doesn’t promise you anything, making it difficult to give up an instant prize. If you skip your favourite snacks, you still may gain weight, and if you skip out on social events to study, you can still fail your exams.

With advanced technology, we enjoy instant gratification most of the time; we almost come to expect it; slowly forgetting what it means to be patient.

Why You Should Exercise Good Patience

You need to be able to resist temptation and stick to your goals; it’s called having willpower and self-control. If you can carry out this self-regulation, it can directly impact your success and wellbeing. Patience can be learned and practised; it is the ability to choose thinking over feeling. Using your thoughts to manage your emotions is key to developing patience; you need to get over the tendency to think in black and white, assigning everything as right or wrong because most scenarios are grey areas.

Patience can also be a choice; it involves self-talk, telling yourself that you need to relax and be patient. A patient thinker allows time for strategic thought, allowing things to fall in their place before making a decision. We can choose our thoughts, and when we do, it alters our brain chemistry, triggering the central nervous system and causing us to relax. Accepting the things you cannot control will make you less stressed and worried; in life, there isn’t much we can completely control. If you expect results immediately, it may hold you back when you’re going down the right path; you’ll begin to doubt your process.

Patience helps you develop a healthy attitude; without it, you’ll be unhappy and irritable, only able to obsess about why things never seem to go your way. The perseverance and productive decisions that follow a patient mentality allow you to reach newer heights. Patience and gratitude go hand in hand; if you’re able to slow down, you’re more likely to notice the things that are going well for you. Patient people have learned to distract themselves from the uncertainty of long-term goals.

Patience is the ability to stay calm while waiting for your desired outcome. We all lose our patience occasionally but doing so frequently or inappropriately will harm your reputation and relationships. It’ll also negatively contribute to stress. I think patience will be tested the most in two aspects of our lives.

  • Hardship: you can call this form of patience, perseverance, overcoming setbacks in life; think of recovering from illness or waiting on the outcome of a lawsuit. It also includes your ability to work towards your long-term goals.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: We all know that people will test our patience at some point. It would help if you were empathetic with both the demands and emotions of others. Listening skills and emotional intellect are vital when working with or managing people. Understanding how your words will affect others takes a lot of self-awareness. By shifting attention away from whatever you’re not receiving, you’re more likely to think compassionately.

Living for a purpose becomes impossible if you strive to become instantly gratified in all areas of your life. Delaying gratification is one of the most important personal traits of successful people. Learn to manage your needs appropriately, and you’d thrive more in your career and relationships than people who constantly give in. it is difficult to tame your impulses; it involves learning to cope with feelings of dissatisfaction. Knowing when it is appropriate to discipline yourself and manage your impulses to reach a better long-term outcome is the art.

People are unhappy because they mistake pleasure for true happiness; the latter involves developing productive habits and surrounding yourself with positive people. The tolerance you exhibit when waiting for something says a lot about you. If you start a course or start your own business, what will you do if things get tough, keep going or give up?

Uncontrolled individuals cannot work towards long-term goals, such as pursuing a challenging career path; over-controlled individuals miss opportunities to experience pleasure and express feelings.

There is a thing called being too patient.

An excessive tendency to delay gratification can damage physiological wellbeing. A moderate amount of patience will maximise life satisfaction, but you can overdo it. The adverse effects come from coping with the dissatisfaction of sacrificing the present for the future. I know that patience is a virtue, but I also know that fortune favours the bold; there comes a point where simply waiting around forever won’t cut it; eventually, you need to pull the trigger and execute your plans.

Results or success aren’t just things you can sit on your back and patiently wait for. Success is determined by ambition, vision, determination, execution, luck, and timing. The desired outcome won’t just fall into your lap. Patience has limits, and if you take it too far, it becomes cowardice. If you think that you will be rewarded just for being patient, the reality is that you’re a sucker.

Any human behaviour likely has the potential to harm when taken to an extreme. Patience is no exception. A mindset of “all things come to those who wait” can easily result in nothing getting done because we are too busy sitting around waiting for things to happen. Being patient won’t get you into too much trouble but being a pushover, coward, or hopeless procrastinator will 100% mess your life up. The art of delayed gratification involves giving up pleasure, for now, so you can enjoy a better outcome long term; procrastination is the habit of not doing what you can today, saving it for a day that never comes.

If your definition of patience is waiting for others to act so that good things can happen in your life, it reflects a sense of powerlessness exhibited by those unable to take charge of their lives.

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Jason Maverick

Jason Maverick

Autistic and Opinionated | Instagram: Jason_d_maverick