Become More Successful Through Delayed Gratification

Learning to delay gratification can make you happier and more successful in both your personal and professional life. Psychological studies confirm what many traditions have long taught about the power of mental training: a little self-discipline can yield great results!

Here are some of the benefits of waiting for what you want, as well as techniques for becoming more patient.

Benefits of Delaying Gratification

  1. Improve your academic and job performance. Studies show that kids who learn to delay gratification get better grades and higher SAT scores. These gains usually continue throughout life, making them more satisfied and successful in their careers as well.
  2. Enhance your relationships. As our patience increases, we become less vulnerable to anger and its tendency to drive others away from us. We learn to look at the big picture and take other’s feelings into account.
  3. Become more physically fit. Studies also show that those less practiced at delayed gratification, or “low delayers,” tend to have higher body fat. If you appreciate the long term benefits of nutritious food and regular exercise, you’re less likely to overindulge in junk food.
  4. Lower your risk of substance abuse. Drug addiction can be one of the most painful consequences of seeking immediate pleasure. Even legal activities like shopping or watching TV can be destructive if we take them to extremes and allow them to crowd out more meaningful endeavors.
  5. Enjoy more contentment. Self control enables us to set goals and focus our energies on reaching them. We can make better choices, accomplish more and handle setbacks better.

Techniques for Delaying Gratification

  1. Recognize the complexity of your mind. Many mental health experts now speak in terms of interactions rather than fixed personality traits. Try to identify the circumstances where you have trouble resisting temptation rather than labeling yourself as being weak. This can be helpful in making constructive changes in your life.
  2. Divert your attention. Just turning your attention away from the cheesecake or the remark you find annoying will instantly make you a little happier and better behaved. The more you learn to control your thinking, the wiser you will become.
  3. Take a pause. Pausing for a second can help you avoid reflexive responses that run against your best interests. Decide if it’s more important to see your kids or spend another hour at the office. Take that morning run rather than sleeping for another half hour if the exercise gives you more energy and keeps you healthier.
  4. Think ahead. You can live in the moment and still be responsible about planning for the future. Find the balance that works for you.
  5. Experiment with visualization. When you’ve fallen in love with a pair of shoes that are too much for your budget, picture them as just a picture lacking any real substance. They’ll be easier to forget.
  6. Contemplate impermanence. If such visualizations sound artificial, think about impermanence. Those $400 shoes could get scuffed the first time you wear them, but setting that money aside for retirement could give you a much better future.
  7. Seek out good role models. Child psychologists find peer modeling to be a highly effective tool for character education. Whatever your age, pick up some valuable lessons by observing someone whose patience you admire.
  8. Reinforce your new habits. Self control grows stronger the more we practice. Have fun finding the strategies that work best for you. Look for daily opportunities to delay gratification, whether it’s a monthly savings plan or transforming those late night snacks into a more nutritious breakfast.

Throughout your life, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time waiting, so you might as well become good at it. Being able to delay gratification is one of the most important qualities you need to reach your goals. Fortunately, this is a skill that improves with practice!

Could You Use an Attitude Makeover?

In this day of personal makeovers, we’ve seen people lose 100 pounds, get a nose job, and finally go after their dream career. But for many, an alteration of attitudes alone can bring transformative life experiences.

Changing how you approach daily living might help you achieve your ultimate goals. Even if you don’t think you’re in need of a total attitude makeover, check out some of the ideas below to discover positive approaches you can take to get the most out of your life.

Are you “Stuck” in a Dominant Attitude?

If you find yourself feeling the same way about a variety of situations in life, maybe you’re hanging on to the same attitude. If you have a particular, less-than-positive approach that dominates your life, it may be time for a makeover.

Reflect on Your Feelings

Take time to think about how you feel most of the time. How would you describe your dominant attitude? Is it contentment, sluggishness, happiness, annoyance, satisfaction, resentment, peace, envy, joy, worry, inquisitiveness, or even anger?

Examine Your Attitude Type

As you can see, some attitudes are positive, optimistic and motivating. If you’re blessed with a naturally positive dominant attitude, you’re in solid command of your life. You’re most likely already living the good life you deserve.

But if you notice that a less positive attitude is pervasive, make the decision now to alter how you think and feel.

Consider the following regarding these more challenging attitudes, and the ways in which they can detract from the quality of your life:

  • Sluggishness. If you have a sluggish attitude toward life, you’ll find yourself simply plodding along, doing barely what is required to get by. You might take little interest in anything and prop your feet in front of the television at every spare moment. Chances are, you set few, if any, goals.
  • Annoyance. If you find yourself consistently annoyed, you probably rarely feel satisfied with life. Something is usually amiss. When you’re annoyed, you may often sit in judgment of others, whom you see as unable to “do things right.”
  • Resentment. Being resentful involves feeling rankled, troubled and worked up most of the time. When resentment is your dominant attitude, you may feel challenged to manifest positive events in your life or enjoy the ones that do occur.
  • Envy. Feeling envious of others can include wanting what someone else has or feeling spiteful toward or competitive with others.
  • Worry. A prevailing attitude of worry means you often experience nagging feelings that things are not quite okay. In advance of an event, you construct many possible scenarios, with few of them leading to a satisfying finish.
  • Anger. An angry attitude is exhausting if you have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s your own attitude or someone else’s. When this attitude is dominant, usually there is a general sense of unhappiness.

Make Over Your Attitude

Once you determine you might benefit from an attitude makeover, you can get started right away. As an adult, you most likely already have all the skills you need to change your challenging state of mind.

Try these strategies to experience the joys of a more positive dominant attitude:

  1. Make a decision. Decide to rid yourself of the attitude that brings you down.
  2. Use reminders. Post reminders on your mirror and refrigerator and in your car to “catch” and let go of your old attitude.
  3. Replace the old. Select a more uplifting attitude as your dominant one. For example, happiness, joy, peace, satisfaction, or contentment as your chief attitude will strengthen your passion for life. When you notice your old attitude creeping in, replace it immediately with a more optimistic, motivating one. Refuse to surrender your power to that old state of mind.
  4. Affirm your new attitude. Apply your new frame of mind. Every day, say to yourself, “No matter what, I am [your new attitude].” Remind yourself that you’re stronger than your old, ineffective attitude.

If you identified any of the above challenging attitudes as your primary emotional state, you might get a lot of pleasure from an attitude makeover. By following these suggestions, you can begin to enjoy the good life you’ve always wanted.

The Zen Habit of Stillness

You probably have friends and acquaintances who are always rushing about and complaining about their lack of alone time. Maybe they don’t even say anything about it because they don’t know any other way to be. Every moment, they’re busy. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you examine the lives of overly busy people, you’ll probably find that they’re not contented, happy people. There’s always so much to do and so little time. Perhaps you’re reading this because you feel rushed yourself and want to slow down and reap the benefits of being still.

Two Kinds of Stillness

You can be quiet in body and quiet in mind. Both are important. Being still physically saves you a lot of energy and effort. You feel less exhausted by the end of the day. Mental quietness has a similar effect on your psychological, intellectual, and emotional energy.

All you have to do to achieve stillness of body is to finish your chores and then relax. Even while you’re completing your tasks, you can conserve energy by using little movement. To get an idea of how to do this, just watch a monk in action. Or notice how a cat relaxes.

Stillness of mind is more challenging to achieve. However, this kind of quietness is much more critical to overall contentment. 

How do you feel when you get some shocking news? How about when you finally reach your target at work, win an award, or find yourself suddenly in a crisis? You feel a rush of adrenaline and you’re off, letting off steam in a gush of emotion, words or action.

So if this is such a natural response to big changes, why do you need to cultivate stillness? When you’re in the middle, when you’re centered, you can see both ends of the spectrum.

When you refrain from reacting in an extreme way, you can control your response to the situation. You can be objective. Most importantly, you can learn from your circumstances and use them for self-development.

From another perspective, when you’ve cultivated internal quietness, you’re less likely to face extreme ups and downs.

Try these tips to develop a still mind:

  1. Stop. In an extreme situation, pull away from the circumstance for a moment. Take a deep breath before you react.
  2. Listen. Listen carefully to what’s being said. If your mind jumps the gun with words you feel compelled to speak, bring it back to the moment. Return your attention to what the other is saying.
  3. Think. Contemplate why you’re facing the situation. Did you play a part in creating it? Is the other simply mirroring you? Is there something you need to learn from this circumstance?

If you take these steps, you’ll be able to avoid overreacting or reacting negatively in haste. This means your response, if and when it does come, will be the right one for the circumstances and for you.

 The Importance of Silence 

Another way to develop mental stillness is to practice silence. Speak only when necessary. Speak only when you have something of consequence to say or something that will help the other.

Before you speak, examine your motivation for saying what you want to say. Is it to further the welfare of the other? Or is it to praise yourself or prove that you’re right and the other wrong? A need to always be right is the basis of much conflict.

Moreover, when you’re habitually silent, your words have more effect. People pay attention when you speak.

As you work toward greater self-awareness, try cultivating internal stillness. Just follow these guidelines as a start. As you practice, you’ll realize many rewards.

Creating Nurturing Spaces in Your Home

When we nurture others, we help them develop or grow into productive, secure people. Everyone knows that we need this as children.

As an adult, you can still benefit from nurturing, so it’s helpful to determine how to encourage your own personal growth and feelings of security.

You have a lot more control over your own world now than you did as a child. You can choose multiple forms of self-nurturance. One effective way is to create sanctuary in your home.

Nurturing Spaces Defined

Nurturing spaces are places you truly love or that bring you pure joy. Some spaces might make you feel incredibly relaxed while others energize you or encourage your interest in something special.

Regardless of who you are, what interests you have, or the type of work you do, you deserve to create and relish nurturing spaces in your home.

How to Design and Create Nurturing Spaces

    1. Getting started. In order to create your sanctuary, first make a list of the things you love, enjoy doing, or are interested in. Knowing what makes your heart sing will help you determine how to construct special places in your home that reflect those interests.
    2. Remind yourself of favorite activities. For readers, try a small collection of magazines or books stacked by your bedside. They’ll be ready and waiting for you to browse through upon retiring for the evening.
      • Maybe the beautiful silk scarf you bought on your cruise or vacation would bring you joy, draped over your bed’s headboard. Or if you sew, hanging up pictures of your fashion inspirations could help keep you excited to work on your projects.
      • Whatever brings feelings of comfort and contentment can be strategically placed throughout your home to create nurturing spaces. 

Creating Nurturing Spaces Room by Room

Think about how you can create environments you love in every room. Below are some ways to construct special areas that may bring you comfort while relaxing or stimulate creativity while you’re creating or producing.

Living Room

If you love to play the piano or another musical instrument, set up a part of the room to play your music. Unless you use a large instrument, a small corner will do for most people.

Perhaps you’re an avid TV buff. You’ll want to have a nice television, comfortable seating and a remote control nearby. You might even want a stack of Entertainment Weekly magazines so you can flip through them.

Family Room

Depending on how you use your family room, possibilities for nurturing spaces are endless. For avid readers, maybe that sunny corner of the room is a great place for a comfy chair and a stack of books you want to read on a side table.

Those interested in drawing or other artwork might use a well-lit area of the room to practice their art. Some special tools or canvases may put you in the mood to create. Regardless of your interests, place elements of them in your family room.

Kitchen

If you love to cook, you might like a shelf or bookcase with your favorite cookbooks and recipe files. Consider placing an unobtrusive chair nearby to sit and browse recipes at your leisure. Each time you enter, you’ll see this nurturing space and feel comfort and joy.

Bedroom

For people who seek comfort in the bedroom, consider having plenty of cushy pillows. Place cherished photos, knick-knacks or decorations on the bedside table. Surrounding yourself with possessions you love helps to create nurturing, relaxing spaces.

Bathroom

A large glass decanter filled with an assortment of seashells may call to mind your last adventure at the beach. Or use a table lamp that harkens back to the time you went to a flea market in your favorite vacation spot. Take advantage of relaxing aromatherapy with scented candles or potpourri and let luxurious bath oils, bubbles, or salts pamper and nurture you with every bath.

You’ll be very satisfied as you take the time to compose places in your home where you can feel secure and experience growth. When you create nurturing spaces in your home, your life becomes richer. You’ll be filled with joy, peace and serenity!