Although you may have heard this expression, you may not know what it actually means—or that it has a scientific basis. According to a recent study, delayed gratification is essential in order to achieve success in life.

“Instant Gratification” is a term that has been used to describe the “mini-moment” when you receive something that you want, but soon lose interest in it and/or desire to get something else. This phenomenon is a major reason why many of the actions of the body happen so quickly in the same environment. The desire and motivation to continue and complete those actions which we started in the “mini-moment” is the key to long term healthy weight loss.

Instant gratification has been shown to delay your results. If you think instant gratification is the key to you getting the results you want, you’re wrong. In fact, studies show that people who follow instant gratification are more likely to fail. The longer you wait the more likely you will be to achieve your goals.

Is it now Pizza Hut? Or do you want six-pack abs later? If you can answer this question correctly, you might well win the game of life as well.

Last night, what did you have for dinner? Why?

I had pizza for dinner. With a corn flour crust, tomato sauce, mushrooms, spinach, artichokes, and olives, I created it at home.

I didn’t immediately go to the bathroom mirror after eating to see if I had lost weight. In terms of physique, there was no immediate result.

I could have gone to Pizza Hut and gotten the fat guy special, which was laden with bad ingredients. It would have been definitely easier and would have delivered more instant stimulation/reward.

And if I looked in the bathroom mirror after eating it, I wouldn’t have gained bodyfat right away. Laugh out loud! That one got right through my body! Sucker!

To get your Sudoku fix, go to http://www.sudoku.com

sudoku

Do you know any Sudoku addicts… errr… I mean…people? It’s a math problem.

You spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the solution is. Finally, you figure it out and are rewarded with the satisfaction of “I did it.”

This prize may encourage you to keep playing and conquering Sudoku.

What if you were given a 500-page stack of Sudoku puzzles to solve?

You might begin, but you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by the number of problems to tackle. Months or perhaps years will go by before any progress is made. The task’s volume drowns out the small immediate payoff.

Isn’t that how most of us think about food and exercise?

We set out to drop 50 pounds of fat and keep it off for the rest of our lives. It’s a matter of decades of good food and workout routines. That’s a big deal. The small immediate reward we receive along the way is overshadowed by the enormity of the undertaking.

The majority of our incentive schemes are timed with a stopwatch rather than a calendar. Pizza Hut and booze are now acceptable incentives. We don’t order pizza and beer with the expectation of enjoying them in 40 days. It’s now or never for pleasure systems.

Immediate appeals to me!

Humans prefer quick gratification. To us, immediate makes sense.

If I’m bending over and stand up, only to hit my head on a cabinet, I’ll feel the agony right away. I’m very sure the cabinet was the source of the discomfort.

I wouldn’t be so sure what caused the pain if I struck my head and it didn’t hurt for 15 days.

The longer it takes for a behavior to be explained, the more likely there are other possibilities.

We don’t get a lot of immediate gratification for eating well every day. The majority of us keep going forward because we believe it is the proper thing to do. When it comes to our appearance, there is no immediate measurable result.

Is it really worth it?

I used to whine about my science assignments when I was in junior high. I used to believe that learning chemistry was unimportant to my future.

My parents made me study my junior high science homework the day I defended my thesis, and I was fairly delighted about it.

But, don’t many of us believe that eating veggies has no effect on our health?

Before we can pursue a new way of eating, we must first believe that it is worth pursuing.

We don’t get a slim waistline after just one day of healthy diet. We must have faith in our approaches.

Moving forward only on the basis of “trust” is difficult, and we don’t place a great value on this way of life. However, if we are to succeed, we must do so. We must proceed only on the basis of the vegetables’ long-term worth.

At times, the procedure does not make sense (like my junior high science homework). The long-term return, though, is well worth it.

Projects that will last a long time

Consider what motivates you to work on a long-term project (e.g., writing a book, a thesis, maintaining a fit body, building a relationship, learning an instrument, etc).

With long-term endeavors, we need some personal assurance that we’re making progress sooner or later. It appears useless to continue endlessly if the behavior has no practical usefulness.

People don’t spend 20 years eating properly and working out hard at the gym without a little joy or reward thrown in for good measure. And if we want to keep our bodies in shape for the rest of our lives, we can’t rely entirely on the scale and/or mirror for motivation. Why?

#1 – because such outcomes aren’t instantaneous.

#2 – since those outcomes don’t change after maintenance.

But it’s there that people put their faith!

Fit people create new incentive systems or broaden the roles of existing systems instead of staring at the scale or mirror incessantly.

We don’t expect all of our early choices/rewards to be the final ones when it comes to eating. This is similar to algebra, home design, or music composition.

scale

Immediate satisfaction

To return to my original point, Did I anticipate to see instant body improvements after eating the homemade veggie pizza that night?

Ummm, no.

After eating that lunch, I didn’t expect any immediate fulfillment in terms of my physical appearance. I was thinking in terms of the long run.

This is one of the attributes that mature people are said to possess. We have the ability to postpone immediate gratification. While three-year-olds have difficulty with this, we can handle it.

But it isn’t simple. People with all the money, resources, status, trainers, chefs, and incentive in the world can’t get and stay thin (e.g., Biggest Loser contestants, Oprah, other public figures, etc.).

Here’s a test for you. Read the article Everything You Need to Know About Cardiovascular Disease and Nutrition. Then, after a long day at work, go by/smell a Cinnabon shop.

Which system of rewards gives you the most pleasure? Which is better: “delayed gratification” or “instant pleasure”?

instant-gratification

Nervous system knowledge

We must gain appropriate reward from a line of thinking in order to achieve life-long leanness.

The good news is that neurological connections connect our thoughts with the experience of being correct with each decision we make (e.g., I’m going to eat vegetables tonight instead of a sleeve of cookies). The links between a particular thought and the brain’s determination that it is the “correct” notion are becoming increasingly strong. Stronger brain connections are the result of this.

Consider how water flows over and again in a riverbed. Over time, the riverbed becomes deeper and more shaped. The water is akin to making good choices.

This isn’t hocus pocus from an infomercial; it’s science.

It’s tough to erase neuronal connections after they’ve been established. This is fantastic for good habits and terrible for bad ones.

Years of consuming junk food to numb emotions has resulted in the formation of strong brain connections. Trying to break a 20-year Oreo addiction will feel like trying to quit smoking crack.

While we may be able to stop eating Oreos on a daily basis, the habit will never be forgotten. It’s similar to booze. There is no such thing as a “recovered” alcoholic; only “recovering” alcoholics exist. It necessitates constant work.

It’s the same with eating. It will feel like you are back at square one if you return to the cookie aisle after 9 months of being clean.

The good news is that we can create positive momentum as well. The more days (and years) you spend making healthy choices, the easier it becomes to keep going.

As an example, consider the following:

1. Sudoku devotees

What kind of feedback will help you stay lean in ten years? How about 20 years?

2. I prefer things that happen right away!

When it comes to maintaining a lean body, what kind of feedback do you rely on every day?

3. Does it make sense to spend the money?

Do you require a weekly nudge from a coach/trainer (or, I suppose, your parents) to stay on track and overcome the “immediate reward” mindset?

4. Long-term initiatives

What motivates you to complete long-term projects?

5. Obtaining immediate gratification

Are you lost in the world of “immediate gratification”? Is it assisting or hindering your leanness?

6. Neurological understanding

What choices do you make about food and exercise on a daily basis? Do they help broccoli form strong neuronal connections? Or do they help Oreos form strong neuronal connections?

Another reason to put off gratification

Here’s a study from two decades ago that’s still relevant today.

The ability of 4-year-old children to delay gratification was studied by scientists.

In one study, children were offered the option of receiving a little incentive now or a larger reward later (e.g. one cookie now, two cookies in 15 minutes).

The kids who waited for the bigger reward not only got the bigger reward, but they also “developed into more cognitively and socially competent adolescents, achieving higher scholastic performance and coping better with frustration and stress,” according to scientists who followed up with them 10 years later.

The children who practiced “delayed gratification” were “more intellectually and socially competent than their peers, as well as better able to cope with stress and resist temptation… They used and responded to reason, were alert and able to concentrate, plan, and think ahead, and were competent and skilled.”

To put it another way, they were more successful people in general. They were smarter, cooler, and more successful in life. Wow, that sounds fantastic.

What was the secret, exactly?

The children who were “successful in maintaining delay” (that is, those who hung in there for the prize) devised tactics.

Distract & avoid

One method was to prevent becoming distracted.

The successful children “appeared to purposefully avoid looking at the rewards, such as by covering their eyes with their hands and resting their heads on their arms.” Many children made their own distractions by talking quietly to themselves, singing, making games with their hands and feet, and even attempting to sleep while waiting.”

The kids who made it through the waiting time utilized “self-directed attempts to lessen their irritation during the delay period by selectively moving their attention and thoughts away from the rewards,” according to the researchers.

In practice, this may imply avoiding the items that are causing you to develop poor behaviors. Remove the candy bowl from your workstation (and ideally, into the garbage).

Also, come up with other things to keep yourself occupied.

Concentrate on the tangible aspects of what you want in the long run.

Researchers also discovered that children who were able to concentrate on the positive aspects of the greater incentives waited the longest.

In a study comparing the ability to wait for one marshmallow now against more pretzels later, the youngsters who focused on the deliciousness of pretzels (yummy, salty, crunchy) were able to wait the longest.

Kids who concentrated on abstract notions of things struggled as well. It’s the difference between focusing on an abstract “I want a better physique” and focusing on the tangible sensation of slipping into a favorite pair of “slim pants” or how fantastic it feels to not be bloated after a meal.

Kids were able to delay gratification — and ultimately succeed — by focusing on the solid, palpable, and perceptible aspects of the higher reward.

So, if you’re looking through the “X-Minute [Body Part]” DVDs, ask yourself, “Do I feel kinda nice now…?” or do you want to feel great later?

tNJj

 

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

MI Rodriguez, W Mischel, and Y Shoda Science 244, no. 4907 (1989): 933-938. Delay of satisfaction in children. Science 244, no. 4907 (1989): 933-938.

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Want to be successful in life? Not sure what you want to do? Do you have a plan and you’re not seeing results? It’s easier than you think to have it all. You just need to make some simple changes. You want instant gratification in life. You see a lot of people around you who have everything they want but nothing they really needed. What you don’t realize is that every time you grab instant gratification in life. You’re slowing down your progress. You’re delaying your results.. Read more about how ‘m and let us know what you think.

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