Something that a lot of us struggle with is delayed gratification. One of the most interesting studies conducted on this subject was undertaken by a scientist at Stanford University in 1972. Commonly known as the “marshmallow test,” it included children who were promised either one marshmallow or pretzel stick (depending on their preference) immediately, or two if they waited for fifteen minutes while looking at the objects of their reward. Though it must have been taxing to stare at their prizes for that long, the kids who chose the double portion ultimately got more. In fact, those who were able to delay their pleasure achieved better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores and more education. Though this observation was certainly not foolproof, there’s something to be said for a person’s ability to say no to immediate pleasure for the sake of long-term satisfaction and fulfillment. Unfortunately, our ability to put off gratification has grown more challenging with the advent of an “on-demand” society. Since we have every form of entertainment and convenience available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to deny ourselves, especially when everyone around us seems to be “indulging.” Thankfully, we have a Savior who can sympathize with our plight because He endured the ultimate test and temptation. When the devil led Him into the wilderness, our Lord was weak and vulnerable after 40 days without food or human contact. Even so, though He was promised every worldly pleasure, He resisted the enemy and pushed back with the Word of God. Because He delayed gratification, He persevered, and ultimately, He paid the price that saved humanity.
My friend, I encourage you to master the discipline of delayed gratification. Take an assessment of your life and note the areas in which you struggle with self-control. Then, choose one thing to focus on, commit it to the Lord, and ask Him to speak to your spirit about actions you can take to build your patience and perseverance in that area. Whether it’s getting a handle on your eating or exercise habits, losing a few pounds, devoting time to a long-overdue project, or taking your business or education to the next level, stop letting the urgent take priority over the important. Say “no” to the allure of instant satisfaction that screams so loudly for your attention, and choose to embrace a long, hard road for the sake of living your best and most abundant life.