There are crucial decisions that we make every day that change our lives more than we can imagine. We know that choices like where we live or work or marry or don’t marry make a huge difference, but most of us don’t realize that small decisions can have as great an impact on our health as any of these…maybe more.
Sometimes we think that we are blindsided by unfortunate events but if we look closely we may discover that we set ourselves up for the hit by our decisions that we made every day. Did you go to the doctor for a sore throat and get told that you’re pre-diabetic? Were you surprised? Look back. How often did you opt for the honey bun and coffee at the convenience store instead of a healthy breakfast? How often do you eat dessert? Have you ever thought or been told by your doctor that you should lose weight? Sometimes we pass right by flashing red warning lights and then we are shocked when we plunge off the cliff.
We are programmed for instant gratification. We may set great health goals that involve delayed gratification but then when we are faced with the decision of what to have for lunch, we give into the quickest, easiest, tastiest thing that we can manage and usually plenty of it. What we call willpower is merely the ability to delay gratification. You have probably heard the saying, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” That’s so true. The problem is that we can taste the ice cream now and we have to wait to see the benefits of not having it. We are not good at waiting. We want it now.
There are a few methods that are known to strengthen the ability to delay gratification:
1-Define your goals.
First determine your motivation, set the goal and then develop a plan to meet that goal. After thinking these things through you are more likely to pass by the temptation of the moment.
2-Find ways to escape whatever is distracting you.
Distract yourself from the distractor. Go for a walk. Have a cup of tea or coffee. Talk on the phone. Play a game…anything to take your mind off of the temptation of the moment. Challenge yourself to do something healthy before indulging. Odds are you will decide to leave it alone. Use a timer to simply stretch out your tolerance of doing without an immediate “fix”. Little by little your willpower will get stronger.
Hide the food or cigarette or whatever is calling your name. I have a foolproof method of delaying gratification. It’s called the Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Cure. I dump the offending food into the garbage and soak it with Dawn. Works every time.
Think about the negative results of giving into the moment. Imagine yourself 80 pounds heavier or in the hospital Intensive Care Unit for cancer treatment. It’s a strong deterrent.
As you develop strength in the area that you are focusing on, reward yourself when you are successful. Buy something just for you. Go somewhere special or take an afternoon to catch up with a dear friend. Indulge yourself. You have earned it. By rewarding yourself for your strengths, you will rewire your brain to think of reward as something that you work for, not something that just appears out of nowhere. You will begin to look forward to those well earned and deserved rewards because you will not only get the reward but you will also get the benefits of delayed gratification in a healthier life and body.
You can do this, begin today.