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Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification is a concept frequently applied to personal finance, physical health, and relationships. It means giving up something today in exchange for something more meaningful or greater in the future. The idea goes that successful people think of how today's decisions affect their lives 5 years into the future.

But the ultimate form of delayed gratification is structuring your entire life to benefit your children's lives or the lives of those in the generation following yours. I can see the effects of this in my own time in history. Many great people before my time made inventions, created new ideas or perspectives, and fought and some have died to give me the freedoms I currently take for granted.

When this happens consistently, that is over many generations, the effect compounds. This could be said to be a definition of civilization. Civilization exists when someone plants a tree knowing they will never enjoy its shade, or fight in a war in which they will never live to see the consequences of, or invent something that may not have much of an application until 100 years from their time.

My wonderful life is a consequence of my own hard work, but to a much larger extent it is the consequence of past generations' even harder work. At 35 years old I can easily say that there is nothing more that I want out of life other than to continue in the relationships I currently have.

So it is that my purpose in life now is to be a bridge between my parents (and my wife's) and our children. And to learn what I can from my own experiences and pass on that knowledge and culture to them. This is the ultimate form of delayed gratification and the definition of civilization.

Originally published


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Delayed Gratification

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