What these findings show is that gratitude can temporarily enhance self-control by decreasing desires for immediate gratification. Whereas feeling happy doesn't do much to increase patience, feeling grateful does.
Consider even the mundane phenomenon of self-serve frozen yogurt. The reason frozen yogurt has become so popular may not be entirely due to its taste, but to the opportunity for constrained creativity.
Anything worth having is worth waiting for, worth working for. We need to be better at discerning the wants and needs that can be satisfied at the push of a button and the ones that need patience and care.
The perspective that life is a marathon, not a sprint, endangers the belief that the result will provide immediate gratification. To a culture that runs on making results readily available, this notion may present challenges.
One way of conceiving environmental awareness is that it's all about fighting our desire for instant gratification. But there is another way to think about instant gratification that an ecological worldview opens to us.
I have an old trunk full of letters written to me when I was at camp and at college and living abroad. I have letters written on onion-skin paper and on pages ripped from college notebooks. I have love letters from old boyfriends and letters from friends I never thought I'd lose touch with.
Once a day, when you're getting ready to text or email someone, call them and talk instead. Better yet, if it's someone at work or someone close to where you are, go over and deliver your message in person.
How do we balance the desire to use our discretionary income to shower our kids with gifts we never had with our desire to continue to teach these important cultural values of conservation and creative reuse?"
True gratification is neither immediate nor is it delayed. True gratification is an odd combination of both, an ongoing experience of fulfillment that combines what is in front of you with your larger aspirations in life.