One of the known keys to success lies in our ability to control our impulses and delay gratifications. The students who handle difficult courses and the successful dieters and people who successfully advance up the ranks of a company share the ability to delay gratifications.
While it’s always nice to get immediate rewards, it becomes a problem when that immediacy becomes a “must” instead of a desire.
One of psychology’s more famous experiments took place almost a half-century ago and was conducted by Walter Mischel. He gave a cookie to each child in the group he was studying, and told them that they could eat the cookie right away or else wait until he returned from a short errand – at which time he would reward those who hadn’t eaten theirs with a second cookie.
He then did a longitudinal study of both groups of students and years later found that those who were able to delay gratification outdid their counterparts on many important measures: better SAT scores, higher incomes, and fewer behavioral, legal, and drug and alcohol problems.
I have often compared The Mental Health Gym to the regular physical gym, and one of the greatest things that they have in common is the role that the ability to delay gratifications has upon the achievement of success.
Owners of physical gyms purchase their equipment based upon knowledge that not everybody who joins will keep working out on a regular basis. They can buy less equipment in recognition of the fact that there will be a percentage of dropouts. Those who remain, however, will reap the rewards of a more fit body and better overall health.
On a similar vein, I hope that those of you who come The Mental Health Gym are utilizing the ideas and exercises rather than just skimming blogs or listening to the first minute of a podcast, and then moving on.
Mental health isn’t built in a day, but the reward of progressively working toward it can be extremely gratifying in the long run.