IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION vs. DELAYED GRATIFICATION

Publication2CROPPED400The developing brain plays an important role in explaining why some people achieve better health results than others. Lifestyle habits during early childhood lay down neural pathway that tend to favor RATIONAL or EMOTIONAL dominance. Repetition strengthens these pathways resulting in lifestyle behaviors that are difficult to modify.

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How would you answer the following question:

Assuming you really liked cookies, would you more likely choose: 2 cookies TODAY or 8 cookies in 1 WEEK?

When it come to one’s health status, those choosing 2 cookies TODAY (satisfying immediate gratification) are more prone to suffering health and weight problems. This decision blocks pathways to the rational mind that identifies rewards for delayed gratification.

Those choosing 2 cookies are more likely to:

“live for today because tomorrow may never come.”

Those willing to wait 1 week are more likely to believe:

“anything worth having is worth waiting for.”

Uncontrolled, repetitive reinforcement of immediate gratification results in ADDICTION. This becomes the dominant neural pathway controlling behavior and actions by overriding higher brain centers of rational thinking.

This is why health conditions such as diabetes (type ll), obesity and cardiovascular disease are so difficult to overcome. Short term goals (reduced blood sugar, 5 pound weight loss, improved blood pressure) do not provide enough benefit to the immediate gratification centers in the brain to support lifestyle changes necessary to achieve these goals. To make this problem worse, the rational brain begins revealing the MAGNITUDE of what it takes to correct these health imbalances. This overwhelms the individual causing a “shut down” of rational thinking. This vicious circle brings the individual back to a place where satisfying the ADDICTION for immediate gratification through destructive patterns of behavior becomes the ONLY GOAL.

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How Can We Satisfy Delayed Gratification NEEDS Using Immediate Gratification WANTS?

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We take a (delayed gratification) activity or event and attach an immediate gratification response to it. For example:

  1. At the conclusion of the first day of exercise (the delayed gratification activity) one can recognize this feat as a source of IMMEDIATE ACCOMPLISHMENT AND CONTROL OVER BEHAVIOR (immediate gratification.) This would REPLACE the previous attitude regarding exercise as a laborious act of drudgery. Improved ATTITUDE reinforces the delayed gratification neural pathway which, in turn, motivates POSITIVE self action (exercise) over sedentary living.

  2. This same concept can be applied to healthier eating. We satisfy delayed gratification NEEDS (healthier eating) by EXPERIENCING immediate gratification through discovering SELF CONTROL leading to improved SELF CONFIDENCE. This “new thinking” gradually begins to dominate future lifestyle decisions resulting in healthier outcomes.

Instead of ONLY “living for today,” we begin to appreciate our NEW TANGIBLE SUCCESSES and their contributions to an improved quality of life for TOMORROW.

This approach makes transitioning into a healthier, more BALANCED person ACHIEVABLE because BOTH brain centers’ (immediate and delayed) needs are met.

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16 comments

  1. no reference to your interview, your followers might feel gratitude to read it lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article really resonates with me, Jonathan. Because when I first embarked on losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle it took a little time for tangible, noticeable results to appear. It would have been easy to give up and think it was a waste of time – and I nearly did! But once my effort finally started to really pay off it was the most incredible feeling. Delayed gratification – but well worth striving for and achieving. Great article.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tracey. People need to see that REAL PEOPLE have experienced SUCCESS with DELAYED GRATIFICATION to reinforce the concept so others are willing to pursue it.

      Like

  3. Another great post – I am particularly struck by the idea of finding immediate gratification for those things that I could easily think of as difficult and unpleasant (i.e., exercise one day not being drudgery, but something that demonstrates self-control and commitment). That is something I can translate to every aspect of my life. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The trick to successful POSITIVE change comes from approaching the “problem” from many different perspectives. Since people think and act very differently, finding an “angle” that “clicks” requires approaching the SAME TOPIC emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This one has really clicked for me – I’ve been thinking about it regularly since this post, and it’s already helping me make better decisions – not just food-wise, but other things. Like just taking care of finishing something that would be so easy to put off – I’m just postponing the task, rather than taking care of it now. In other words, I’m taking the instant gratification of laziness over the delayed gratification of more time to do something I will enjoy more later.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You definitely get it! Many of these suggestions I offer I’ve tested on MYSELF FIRST! It has made a difference in my perception and my willingness to take on less desirable projects that NEED COMPLETING. This approach not only gets the tasks done, it does so with much less personal CONFLICT.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Nedded this post this morning….thank you…..and I hate to say it, I have always been an immediate gratification sort of gal!!! part of my down fall for sure….xxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Recognizing this truth is the first step in changing it (if desired.) Finding an ALTERNATIVE process (as I’ve written about) that satisfies immediate gratification in an emotionally and physically healthier manner is the SOLUTION for many people. They simply need to rediscover an approach to accomplish this task.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are the voice of reason. Great post ! Makes so much logical sense !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always, Lynne. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I echo all the wonderful comments you’ve already received! Especially Sarah & Choppy’s!! Ditto, Sarah!! Thanks for the continued inspiration Doc!!!👏🏻👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always for your very kind words. It is such a joy to see people applying these concepts and reading about the successes they’ve achieved.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. very good post…..and true it is….100 percent

    Liked by 1 person

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