I’m a happy-delayer. What I mean is that I like to intentionally deprive myself of good things and get the bad things out of the way first. I’m sure a lot of people do this – getting the difficult tasks done makes it more likely that you’ll finish the whole project. The problem is that I married a non happy-delayer (an instant-gratifier?), which has led to some interesting arguments.
For example: if I bought a flavor of juice that I didn’t really care for, I would be sure to buy a better flavor the next time I went shopping. I would not, however, open the new juice, drink the new juice, or even think about the new juice until the old juice was gone – not until I had suffered through it. Eric, on the other hand, will forget about the old juice the second the new juice hit the refrigerator shelf. I try to argue him on this point and say, “Why don’t you finish the old one first?” to which he replies logically, “Because it’s disgusting.”
Sometimes I wonder if it kind of goes back to the whole discarded food thing (doesn’t everything?). Maybe it’s a waste not, want not situation. But then I think that no, it’s actually more than that. I enjoy the anticipation of waiting for the new juice. With every sip of the gross old juice, I think, “This takes me one step closer to deliciousness.” And it’s a proven fact that the anticipation of a thing makes you happier than getting the actual thing. I read a study once that claimed employees rated their happiness much higher the week before their vacation than when they were on the actual vacation. Seems strange, but makes perfect sense in my twisted head. Once you are on vacation, it’s impossible to stop counting the days that you have left before you leave. With every fun activity, you can’t help but think “Only 3 days left of this. Then it’s back to the old grind.” But before vacation? That’s when your imagination can run wild, imagining all the exciting times that you’ll have… once you suffer through 2 more days at the office, of course.
Today I got an email from a friend into my work inbox and made myself wait to read it. I intentionally read all the emails around it and left it unread so that through each tedious task of my day, I could look forward to reading it after I had finished the self-appointed hurdles I had to jump to allow myself to read it. Did it make that hour go faster? Of course it did.
But back to my instant-gratifier hubbers. In a way, I think he can teach me something. Like… it doesn’t really profit anyone to suffer through disgusting juice. I deserve to be happy, and I deserve it right now, not later. Like that whole life’s short, eat dessert first thing; maybe I can incorporate that – at least partially – into the suffering that I somehow think is unavoidable in life. There’s enough sadness that we can’t avoid, so when it comes to those little things we can give ourselves to make the day a little brighter? That’s when it’s OK to just throw out the disgusting juice.