Family Talk: Delayed gratification
When I was in high school, I ran across this quote from English scientist Thomas Huxley: “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not." For some reason, that quote resonated with me, and I wrote it down on the back of an envelope and stuck it in my dictionary. I still have that quote in my files. I’m wondering if it’s a lesson we are learning or teaching today. I see evidence all around me that we’re not. I observe children born to single mothers who are ill prepared to have kids. Poverty is their likely outcome. I see a tsunami of credit card debt, threatening to drown those who bought nonessentials without waiting to save up. Anxiety and bankruptcy are in their future. Many other examples highlight the fact many people are not exercising delayed gratification. But then I see people who are following Huxley’s advice. Students scrimping their way through college, making deposits in the bank of tomorrow. Couples waiting to have children until marriage, and when they can afford kids. I see parents teaching children the valuable lesson of “wait,” instructing them about saving money and to get their work done before they play. In an excellent article, "The Benefits of Delaying Gratification," Dr. Ilene Strauss Cohen writes: “Studies show delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People who learn how to manage their need to be satisfied in the moment thrive more in their careers, relationships, health, and finances than people who give in to it.” You want to be successful, right? You want your spouse and children to lead successful lives, too, right? Then begin living and teaching Huxley’s principle of delayed gratification. Don’t delay. Start today.
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at email@example.com.