In this impatient, impetuous age it can be difficult to believe that there can be joy in waiting. The technical term is ‘deferred gratification’ – doesn’t it sound boring and old fashioned? But maybe deferred gratification does have something to offer us.
Some time ago I saw this:
The things that come to those who wait will be the scraggly junk left by those who got there first.
OK, so it makes you laugh, but isn’t there a grain of truth in this in terms of how people feel and act? We have so much, but many of us are terrified with not having more. We act as though getting there first and having more will bring us happiness, but all the research in positive psychology and anthropology suggests that beyond a very basic level (and if you’re reading this web page you are almost certainly above that level) more doesn’t necessarily make you any happier. Loving relationships and being involved with the local community are much more sure-fire ways to happiness for most people.
If you live in the UK, you may remember that TV advert with actress Maureen Lipman, who was trying to buy something. She was told that she couldn’t have it because it had been reserved for Mrs Jones. She tried various other products, but again was told Mrs Jones had reserved them. Finally she wanted to buy something that Mrs Jones hadn’t reserved. On being told this by the store assistant, she said: “If it’s not good enough for Mrs Jones, then it’s not good enough for me.”
Some of us suffer from this attitude too: whatever other people want, we want too. We don’t stop to think if it really is appropriate or valuable for us in our lives.
Be reflective about what you buy. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Is this something I need?
- What will having this add to my life?
Recognise that self-development and becoming the person you are deep inside is not about owning more. Sometimes let other people get there first. OK, you may get left with the ‘scraggly junk’. Maybe you’ll decide not to go there at all, not to buy more in order to try to fill a gap in your life that needs filling in another way.
Having more can mean having less, as it diverts you from the issues and discomfort in your life that you need to address.
(c) Jane Thurnell-Read 2018