Is immediate gratification worth it?

Instead of posting something a little more political I thought I would write about immediate verses delayed gratification. I am currently writing a short work of fiction which is almost at the end of it’s first draft. When it reaches the 4th (At which point it will go to proof readers) I intend to write a small part on this blog relating to one of the characters. I will also in a separate post in the ‘Over The Mountain’ tab talk very briefly about what the book is.

Now this is often heard in regards to education. You might have heard somebody say something along the lines of;

‘Leaving school early and going into a job tends to give more money than your struggling student friends but stick in and it’s worth it in the long run.’

This is of course a large simplification as other pleasures can be gained though education as can issues such as student debt.

For a delayed gratification to be workable it has to be worth it in the long run. A common example is you can have one chocolate now or wait an hour and have two. There is a pleasure to eating the chocolate right now which may be larger than having two. They could be massive and you could be very hungry for example. In short it has to ‘be worth it in the long run’.

But I want it now!

In reality the argument is a utilitarian one. The example that comes to mind is the suffragette movement. I will suffer these various pains but the pleasure in the long run if successful is quite high. Although there is an inherent pleasure in “I want it and I want it now”. This mentality would likely go some way to explain ‘debt culture’ but would of course be but a small facet of a larger topic.

We often do things and don’t stick with them, an obvious example being that of new years resolutions. We gain a pleasure in the idea that we are going to change something but quickly become disillusioned.

Of course gratification can also be a risk. Winning the lottery could be an illustration of this. You pay money for a chance to win a larger sum of money. Any form of gambling really falls under this sort of pleasure.

We live in an age in which quick immediate gratification can be sought. This is a topic I’ve previously looked at and I do think it is part of the reason that entertainment seems to ‘dumb down’. Notable examples against this flow do exist and do seem to prove quite popular.

Of course people will be for whatever reason inclined towards one or the other but is one better than the other? I’m not sure for a functioning society I would imagine a mix of both is needed. Sometimes you have to act, sometimes you have to think. A society like a single individual also has to sometimes make quick decisions and sometimes needs to think things though.

Well I will leave this there and will hopefully be inspired to write something a bit more in depth for whatever reason.


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