How do you open a present? Do you rip the paper off, revealing its contents in a nanosecond? Or do you carefully remove each piece of tape and unwrap the paper (immediately folding it of course) to reveal the gift several minutes after the giver has lost patience?
What about practical jokes? Do you like something quick that will garner you immediate laughter or do you prefer the long game joke with the punchline coming a week after everyone’s forgotten the original premise?
In a world of online shopping, video-on-demand and a 24/7 communication tool in the palm of our hand, you’d think we’d be a community of Instant Gratification Seekers.
And there’s no doubt there’s a lot of them out there.
But the Delayed Gratification Seekers are still out there too.
I am one of them.
A delivery of mail containing:
1 Greeting card
1 Parcel (containing something eagerly awaited)
In what order would you open them?
I’m guessing the Instant Gratification Seeker would open the parcel first, then the greeting card, the magazine (and probably take the time to peruse it) then the payslip and bills.
Here’s the order I opened them:
Bills – Payslip – Greeting Card – Parcel
I am yet to open the magazine. I want a quiet block of time to enjoy it properly so I’ll wait.
The term ‘delayed gratification’ has a tendency to sound like a bad thing. Like you’re punishing yourself by making yourself wait for something pleasurable. But I’d argue that it actually adds to the pleasure.
I’m currently waiting on a letter from a friend. I know it is going to be something special. It is also something that I very much want to read. But I’m in no hurry to receive it.
You see, it’s the joy of the waiting. It’s the excitement of the anticipation. It’s the imagining of what it might be like. Once I have it, as wonderful as that will be, it will also mean that the pleasure of that expectation will be over. And that will make me a little bit sad.
Instant gratification is, well, instantly gratifying but are we short-changing ourselves of more? Isn’t it a richer experience of gratification if we have to wait for it?
So. Instant? Or Delayed?
What’s your gratification?