Friday, September 18, 2009

Delaying Gratification

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” Zig Ziglar

How many times have I been miserable because of this very concept? I must savor that bowl of ice cream this minute, but tomorrow I’ll be sorry because I’m nauseated while I work out. I must swipe my debit card for that pair of jeans, but next week I’m upset because my checking account is nearing zero. I must snooze late because the boys woke me up multiple times, but during the day I’m miserable because I didn’t get my workout in.

We live in a society of instant gratification. Need a question answered? Minutes on the Internet and you’ll have more information than you could possibly use. Hungry? Jimmy John’s will have your sandwich ready before you’ve finished ordering. Tired? Drink a Red Bull and you’ll feel pep immediately.

The age of ease could be a good thing for our society, if we took the extra time given us by modern technology and used it for good – spending more quality time with family and friends, giving more of ourselves to serve others, exercising and enjoying nature, finding ways to better ourselves and our world.

The problem I see with our society is we squander that extra time with television viewing, Internet surfing, or the mastering of video games. I’m not going to get started on my anti-media kick because none of you need the opinions of a zealot. But I am going to say if we don’t train ourselves and our children to delay gratification we are going to have a very unhappy life.

Why is it important to learn to wait, to work hard for a goal, to understand that we can’t have everything we want?

First of all, patience is a virtue for many reasons. Not everything in life is going to come at the snap of our fingers. We’re going to face trials and hard times, if we haven’t learned to be patient in afflictions, our suffering will be quadruple what it should be.

Second, I think of wise Mama Bear from The Bernstein Bears, “Greedy cubs just want more and more.” Buying and consuming is fun sometimes, but too much and all you want is more and more. The trick is to be satisfied with the good things we have while still working hard and being productive.

Third, the Lord wants us to learn to labor and feel good about what we produce. There is much satisfaction in a job well done. Success that comes quickly usually leaves just as quickly.

How does this translate into health and fitness?

It’s possible to lose weight quickly with crash diets, but 99 times out of 100 that weight will come back just as quickly (usually with some extra pounds to boot). It’s possible to take some crazy drug or shot to lose weight, but are you willing to risk the side effects that could stick with you for life?

“Trading what you want most for what you want now?”

What most of us want is to be healthy and fit for life: To be able to play with our children or grandchildren without aches and pains. To feel good each morning as we roll out of bed. To look halfway decent in those jeans that cost way too much money.

To achieve these goals we’ll need patience, hard work, and a little bit of know-how. We’ll need to realize that though we might want to push the snooze button for the third time, we need to get out of bed and get our workout in. Instead of reaching for that second brownie (I know it looks like heaven) we’ll have to say "no" to ourselves and think about our long-term goals instead of letting our taste buds rule the house. When we’re exercising and want to quit, maybe we need to push ourselves even harder (within reason, of course) and someday soon we’ll realize that the extra sprint on the treadmill or the extra set of triceps dips is really paying off.

I hope each one of us can try a little harder, once in a while deny ourselves some luxuries and treats, and realize how wonderful it feels to put mind over body and conquer the natural man.

Cami Checketts is a wife, mother, writer, pro-bono fitness trainer, and wanna-be supporter of Cold Stone Creameries (she had to give up ice cream to fit in those jeans that zeroed out her checking account). Her latest novel, The Sister Pact, is in stores now. For more information, please refer to her website –


  1. Great post! Love this concept and agree completely. Congrats on getting this in the newsletter. :)