Creating a Positive Mindset #3: Embracing Delayed Gratification

by Michelle on October 18, 2012

Another contributing factor to our daily fight with negativity is our need for instant gratification.  Anything less than “right now” has turned many into unappreciative, sarcastic, and cynical individuals – a breeding ground for negativity.  We have lost sight that many of the best things in life take hard work and time.  A tree doesn’t grow as soon as you plant the seed, does it?  In fact, it takes watering and nurturing before you even see it sprout.

The Best Things in Life Simply Take Time

In anything we are trying to accomplish in life that is different from what we have and know today, we have to remind ourselves that it takes time.  And if we are looking to other success stories as fuel of possibility, then we need to remember to look at those success stories for full value, not face value.  This goes back to my last post which boldly states that “comparison is the thief of joy.”  Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking it happened so easily for anyone else.  The story they share today is preceded by a stretch of time filled with activity, hard work, and nurturing.  Take a look at history as a whole.  You will see that the greatest things that happened (financial, influential, relational successes) were accomplished over a vast time period.  There are very few exceptions, but take a moment to take a look at those exceptions too.  You will notice whatever was gained quickly oftentimes goes away as quickly as it was received, or that it simply is not valued as much as if it had been worked for over time.  The things we work hardest for are the things we tend to value the most.

Don’t Self-Sabotage with Short-Term Thinking

So my advice is to not sabotage yourself with short-term thinking but rather embrace delayed gratification.  How do you get yourself more comfortable with this?  Think back to your own personal history and reminisce on all of your accomplishments.  You can even think back on this past year.  Where were you a year ago?  And what has happened and has changed within the past 365 days?  If you like, choose a challenge and/or milestone and write it down.  And then take a few moments to write down all of the things you did to overcome the obstacle or achieve one of those accomplishments.  Seeing this will allow you to connect with all of the steps you had to go through.  You should see a good mix of hard work, consistent activity, and length of time.  Knowing that you have done it at least once will allow you to connect with the thought that you can do it again, which helps transition you into a positive mindset around your goals – and around your life in general.  If you cannot think of anything, then we have a lot of work to do on your positivity!  We all have something to celebrate and acknowledge as success.

Shift Your Mindset to Long-Term Thinking

I understand you want it now – I want it now too!  But the best things in life do take time and diligence.  Many days, you will not see or feel that the activities you do today make an impact, and that will be hard to embrace.  It takes a little faith, but on those days when faith is hard to find, use the above exercises and reminders to get you through and to maintain a positive outlook.

Helpful (and Fun) Resources

I love this video from comedian, Louis CK.  He shares his thoughts on instant gratification; it’s a humorous take on how everything around us is truly amazing but yet that we take it for granted; our desire for instant gratification plays a role in it.

Another great resource is the book, Water the Bamboo, by Greg Bell.  He is also a great speaker and you can catch snippets of his speaking engagements online.  Here is one that I like – enjoy!

“…impatience should be avoided because it wastes that time and attention in complaints, which if properly applied, might remove the cause.”  ~Samuel Johnson

“Patience is waiting.  Not passively waiting.  That is laziness.  But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.”  ~Unknown



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