Short Term Pleasure v Long Term Reward

If donuts instantly put an inch on our waistline the junk food industry would not exist.

Junk foods greatest weapon is the delayed impact of its consumption coupled with the human brains bias towards short term pleasure over long term reward.

“The immediate gratification of eating an ice cream now means more to us than thinking about how much better we would feel in six months if we didn’t eat the ice cream and instead lost weight.” - Stephan Lewandowsky

In a world of temptation learning to delay gratification is not easy. Nonetheless if staying lean, strong and healthy is a priority it’s a skill which needs to be practised, strengthened and mastered. 

Sweat now and enjoy stronger muscles later

Eat healthy meals now and enjoy a trimmer waistline later

Go to sleep earlier and enjoy greater energy later

The trouble is short-term pleasure loops, even when they sabotage our long term interests, can be hard to break. A simple trick which can help is to create your own mini-delays. These are small, disciplined actions which need to be completed before the behaviour you are trying to avoid.

For example: "I can eat the donut if I'm still hungry in 15 minutes"

These mini-delays need to be small and easily achievable with a minimal investment of willpower, particularly when you first get going (if they are too tricky or tiresome they will simply be ignored!)

Each time you front-run the short-term pleasure with a more disciplined behaviour you are strengthening your delayed gratification muscle. Repeated enough times it becomes easier and easier to resist the short-term pleasure altogether thereby paving the way for long-term rewards.

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” - Richard G. Scott