My husband has been reading a book lately that he has told me about. I can't remember the name, but one of the interesting themes in the book has to do with delayed gratification. The author uses another term, "hedonistic" something....I need to ask him that term again. Anyway, basically it means delayed gratification.
The author said that studies show that delaying gratification actually helps us to enjoy things more. For example, if we were to move in to a fully furnished house, we would enjoy it at first, but there comes a time when we get used to the new things, and they become normal to us. The author suggested that instead of spoiling ourselves with everything we want, we should allow ourselves to get one thing at at time, thereby spreading out the enjoyment. For example, let's say that you decide to redecorate your living room. It will be more enjoyable for you if you buy one piece of furniture at a time, or do one thing such as buying new carpet, then wait awhile before buying the next thing.
Another example of this that the author mentioned is a carton of ice cream. You could buy a quart of ice cream and eat it all in one sitting. But it would be more enjoyable if you were to eat just a little bit each time, over a longer period of time. Can you see how eating it all in one sitting only gives you perhaps a half hour of enjoyment, whereas eating a little bit over a few days time stretches out that enjoyment?
I think this kind of practice also makes us appreciate our blessings more. The world advertises to us that what we have is outdated, and that we need newer and better. The temptation of covetousness is very real. We see the clothes in the store window and buy them because they make us feel better about ourselves. But that enjoyment only lasts a short time until we get used to the clothes, then we have to go out and buy more in order to duplicate that pleasure we felt while it was new to us. If instead we really learn to appreciate and enjoy what we already have, we stretch out the enjoyment time. Then if we only allow ourselves to occasionally buy something new, we appreciate it more and enjoy it more because it is a rarety.
While I've been living in China I have tried to do this more; partly because of wanting to appreciate what I have, but partly because there really isn't that much here for sale that I want. I bought a leather purse before coming here. Over the past two years I have used it every day, and it is starting to get worn. But I'm learning to enjoy the charm of worn things. I also have a pair of sunglasses that I've had for awhile, and the paint on them is starting to wear off. Instead of buying new ones, I'm trying to see how long I can use this pair, just for the charm of having something old. We often buy "vintage", but not many people can allow their own belongings the chance to become vintage. It's funny how we are willing to buy a beat up antique, but when our new things become beat up, we discard them.
So all of this is on my mind as I prepare to go home to America. Most of the furniture we owned before we came was used. and not worth the cost of storing for two years, so we gave it away. When we go home this summer, we have to start over and buy new furniture. I think we will try it the way the author said, and do a little at a time. I want to really try to enjoy the experience for awhile.