Inside: Learn how the lost art of waiting in an instant-gratification world has made people more impatient and how we can benefit from delayed gratification.

“Patience is a virtue.”

You’ve probably heard the phrase before – and maybe didn’t think too much about it.

But in a world driven by instant results and the desire – and expectation – for immediate satisfaction, the age-old adage holds more significance than ever.

The ability to wait patiently for what you want, instead of expecting it to be delivered or achieved immediately, is a rare skill. And it’s one that can bring significant personal growth, mental well-being, and overall success if you can embrace it in your everyday life. 

On the other hand, giving in to the “I need it now” mentality can impact your life as well – in ways that aren’t so great.

Not sure why you’d want to embrace the lost art of waiting in this instant gratification world?

Keep reading to see why instant gratification isn’t such a good thing – and how having more patience can benefit us in some unexpected ways. 

waiting in an instant gratification world

What’s the harm in instant gratification? 

In today’s always-connected, high-tech society, instant gratification has become an expectation – not just a nice thing to experience once in a while.

Text messages can facilitate instant communication.

The internet can deliver results at the press of a button that you would’ve spent hours, if not weeks, seeking out a few decades ago.

We have hundreds and thousands of television shows, movies, and other forms of entertainment at our fingertips, available whenever we want – no waiting required. 

That’s great – right?

Well, sometimes.

It all sounds nice. And, in some situations, there isn’t any harm in being able to get what you want right away.

The problem? This expectation of instant gratification permeates every aspect of our lives – and that can cause some challenges and poor decision-making.

waiting in an instant gratification world

Instant gratification can hinder our personal growth. 

One of the biggest detriments to instant gratification concerns our ability to learn, grow, and develop. For example, think about learning a new skill – it doesn’t matter what.

Whether you’d like to learn to speak a new language, create pottery, or run a marathon, it isn’t something you can master in a day, a week, or even a few months.

Building new skills takes time, practice, and patience

But in a world where quick fixes and instant gratification have become the norm, we expect things to happen fast.

And when they don’t, we find ourselves dejected, frustrated, and quick to give up. 

When we don’t have to practice patience, we tend to become more impatient with ourselves and with anything or anyone that makes us wait. Have you noticed how many people will honk their horns the second a traffic light turns green?

The inability to wait well isn’t good for anyone’s character and it won’t help you handle the inevitable situations in life that require waiting.

woman holding an Amazon box

Instant gratification can harm our impulse control. 

Another thing that many have lost in this world of instant gratification? Our ability to control our impulses.

When you can satisfy every craving that arises at any hour of the day, you hinder your ability to pause and wait – and reevaluate your decisions, which may not always be good ones.

This lack of control can lead to poor decision-making, a more impulsive mindset, and decreased resiliency in the face of challenges. 

Learning to wait well is a skill. Using your mind and imagination instead of defaulting to a device takes discipline and intentionality.

How can we benefit from waiting and delayed gratification?

Practicing patience can be uncomfortable at times because who really enjoys waiting? But it is valuable and worth doing.

There are many benefits of being patient and embracing delayed gratification. Here are just a few ways you might grow from waiting in an instant gratification world.

delayed gratification

1. Delayed gratification can increase your self-discipline.

While getting everything you want instantaneously might feel nice, it makes us more impulsive.

Practicing delayed gratification, on the other hand, can increase our self-discipline – a skill that can benefit us in virtually every aspect of our lives. 

Self-discipline is key to growth. You need discipline when learning a new skill or pursuing a new goal.

It helps us create positive habits that support our health and well-being. Being patient and disciplined contributes to our financial stability, our ability to be productive, and our professional achievements. 

With delayed gratification also comes a greater sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the thing you’ve worked towards and waited for.

waiting in an instant gratification world

2. Delayed gratification can lead to better decision-making. 

When you’re used to getting everything you want right away, you’re inclined to make decisions in the same manner – quickly, to get the fastest possible result.

But fast decision-making isn’t always a great idea. In fact, most of the decisions we make can benefit from a slower, more thoughtful approach.

There are the obvious ones – buying a new house, moving to a new city, changing jobs, entering into a relationship. Major life changes can always benefit from a little extra consideration. 

But even small decisions, like what you’re going to have for lunch, are better made when you aren’t acting impulsively. That fast food cheeseburger might sound nice – but is it really the best choice?

With a little thought, you’ll likely conclude that prepping a quick, nutritious meal at home is the better choice for your health as well as your finances.

Impatience also leads to time-wasting habits that ruin your productivity and take more of your time than you intended. But by learning to wait well you can use your time wisely and make better decisions.

holding a credit card and wallet

3. Delayed gratification can help your financial situation.

You’ve heard the phrase “impulse shopping.”

In today’s instant gratification world, impulse shopping has never been easier. You no longer have to get into your car, drive to the store, find what you want, and wait in line to make a purchase.

Thanks to Amazon and an endless array of online shops, you can buy virtually anything you want with a quick click of a button. Very little action is required on your part, and stuff just appears on your doorstep thanks to delivery. 

While it might be convenient, our ability to instantly purchase anything we want can lead to some financial troubles. It’s harder to save money when you can spend so easily.

The challenge of buying on credit

Shopping can become an addiction and with the ability to buy on credit, you can end up in debt. It’s easy to get caught up in FOMO or the ‘you deserve it’ mentality, even though you don’t have the cash to pay for it.

With more people opting for buy now pay later options, the desire to have what you want now is winning out over delayed gratification. Unfortunately, that short-term thinking often results in high-interest rates that lead to long-term debt.

Since online shopping is so easy, you’re less likely to carefully consider whether or not you should buy it in the first place. 

By practicing delayed gratification and holding off on those purchases so you can actually think about whether or not you need them, you’ll often find that the answer is no – you don’t.

When you’re more intentional with shopping you’ll avoid frivolous purchases and make smarter spending decisions. That can help you to achieve your financial goals and avoid clutter in your home. 

couple smiling at each other

4. Delayed gratification can improve your relationships. 

Being patient and practicing delayed gratification can even help an unexpected area of your life – your relationships with others.

The ability to wait and listen, instead of interrupting conversations with every thought that crosses your mind, is key to forging meaningful connections with others.

It helps you to develop a greater sense of understanding instead of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. It can also improve your ability to empathize. 

When you’re practicing patience, you’re less likely to impulsively say things you don’t mean or later regret.

By taking the time to appreciate and embrace the needs of others, instead of your own interests and desires, you’ll see benefits in virtually every relationship in your life – personal and professional.

Teaching kids patience through delayed gratification

Practicing patience and delayed gratification also helps your kids learn the important life skill of waiting well.

When kids aren’t ever required to wait or be bored they won’t be prepared to handle those situations well when they’re adults.

Kids are often so overstimulated that it requires being intentional with screen time and devices to help them learn patience, impulse control, and to increase their attention span.

If you’ve ever observed instant gratification with kids, you’ve likely seen that it doesn’t end well. When young children are used to getting what they want immediately, they’re more likely to be entitled and less appreciative.

By practicing waiting in an instant gratification world we can teach our kids how to wait well and be grateful.

Do you think we have lost the art of waiting in an instant-gratification world? I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments section.

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  1. Great article! I’m 56 and when I was young waiting came easier because we HAD to wait. Looking back I would say it made life more rewarding and I miss certain things (some people will never know the wonderful feeling of getting a hand written letter you anticipated every day when the mail came. With such quick access to everything I think it certainly does make it less enjoyable. There are times quick access to information is helpful but over all it has impacted quality of life.

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