We live in such a connected world where pretty anything is at our fingertips. We can download and ‘gain instant access’ to the world seemingly without borders and all within seconds. The Internet has provided a pathway to information that is a simple click away. Online shopping has offered consumers the opportunity to see, think, desire and purchase within minutes and delivery in 24 hours or less. We have become accustomed to instant gratification, and our lives are running faster than ever before.
I remember when I was a child, and the Walton’s salesman would travel through our neighbourhood. Our parents would order our clothes, and we would wait with great anticipation of the impending delivery that would come in a matter of weeks. There was much excitement when packages would arrive. It has to be said that our disposable incomes differed significantly to that of this generation and in reality, there simply wasn’t as much to buy or maybe our ‘wants’ were smaller.
When I was young, and for many of my generation, we couldn’t wait for our birthdays or Christmas because we knew a long awaited gift would be presented. It was a different time and, in my opinion, a time that taught patience and allowed us the opportunity to look forward with excitement and anticipation.
God tells us that patience is right, alongside joy and kindness. I hope that as the world becomes smaller thanks to technology we don’t neglect to remember that waiting is far better than instant gratification, and the rewards are greater still.
Some of you may be aware of a famous study that was done in 1970 by psychologist Walter Mischel. Mischel used a cookie, a marshmallow and the idea of a salty pretzel to teach delayed gratification and impulse control. Psychology Today has done a great article on this, and if you haven’t read it, you may be interested in reading. If so, here.
As I’ve thought about this and the importance of teaching our children delayed gratification I asked a few people what their thoughts are on the subject:
‘Getting what you want, when you want it, keeps us in a state of permanent egotistical childhood.’ Philip – father of three
‘In this age of instant communication, we as a connected people are losing our ability to wait. Anticipation is a beautiful thing and makes the arrival of the thing we have been waiting for even more sweeter.’ Caitlin – University student
Friends, let us not walk through this year with selfish expectation but rather allowing some delay or pause in our life, living with a sense of good things to come and when they do come, we celebrate! Let’s teach our children and grandchildren the simple joy of counting down until the gift-giving seasons of birthdays and Christmas. Let’s teach them to save up, to work hard for something they want to buy or experience. By doing this, we allow them the opportunity to understand, feel and experience value. Through these small and seemingly insignificant ways they will develop an appreciation of delayed gratification and in the end, hopefully, see it as a blessing.