When reading about delayed gratification, the sweet item that usually comes to mind is marshmallows. You know, the famous Stanford study on children and delayed gratification?
I prefer the David Brooks column as a reference, but you can also insert the words in your favorite search engine for the story. Or check out this video of adorable children wrestling with the one now or two later question.
When I heard about a new 24 hour Cupcake ATM (@CupcakeATM) this week, I was appalled, but looked nevertheless! Here is the video.
For those of you who remember the automat, the only thing new about this is the price and the dispensed product. If you have late night cravings, this is classier than going to a convenience store.
Red Velvet 1 Red Ropes 0
But I digress. Here is a definition of delayed gratification from the Encyclopedia of Psychology:
The ability to forgo an immediate pleasure or reward in order to gain a more substantial one later.
For all of my professional life, I have worked in intangibles and the concept of delayed gratification is inherent in the practice of money management and financial planning. However, in doing some research, I learned that delayed gratification is present in other areas of study as well. David Brooks covers the link to brain research, and we also have religion. Apparently St. Augustine prayed: Lord make me chaste — but not yet!
One may as well say, “Let’s go to the ATM!”
M Scott Peck, author of the book The Road Less Traveled, described four aspects of discipline: one of which is:
Delaying gratification: Sacrificing present comfort for future gains.
Peck says that these are “These are techniques of suffering”. This is not of much use on a day-to-day basis – come study with me and I will make you suffer!
Cupcake ATM 1 Study and Suffer 0
What really works to instill delayed gratification?
- Awareness; then Acceptance of what you are doing right now. Some would argue against acceptance, but you must have a moment of it to move forward without internal “shaming and blaming”.
- Then Balance the current behavior against your desired goals. At $4 a pop, it would only take 6.25 foregone cupcakes to add $25 to your mutual fund or credit card payment each month.
- Then Change your behavior to meet your goals. Be Compassionate with yourself while doing this.
Awareness/Acceptance/Balance/Change = ABC
I haven’t yet resorted to taking away my client’s marshmallows [or cupcakes], however, at $4 per cupcake, gratification delayed is money in your pocket!
Wallet 4, Cupcake ATM 0