Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music and the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.
You’re probably familiar with the old saying “The best things in life come to those who wait.” Sometimes that’s called delayed gratification: the decision to forego something you want now so that you can have something better later. It’s not hard to see the benefits of this philosophy, but it can be hard to practice it — especially in today’s world, where so many voices say, “Why wait? You deserve to have it now! This will make you happy.”
But is happiness what they are selling?
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is one of many who have observed that pleasure, with its instant gratification, is not the same as happiness (see “The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, translated by J. E. C. Welldon, published in 1912, pages 332–35). Building a life of true happiness takes time and patience. It involves living “a life of purpose” (“The Benefits of Delaying Gratification,” by Ilene Strauss Cohen, Psychology Today, Dec. 26, 2017, psychologytoday.com).
And most often, that purpose is not to satisfy our own wants but to bless the lives of others.
You might say that pursuing happiness is an act of faith — faith that plodding along in school will lead to skills that can equip you to make a meaningful difference in the world; faith that doing without some luxuries now will allow you to take care of your family and loved ones later; faith that any personal sacrifice you make to serve others cannot compare to the joy of making someone’s life better. The principle, then, is to not give up what you really want in life for something you think you want now.
Of course, sometimes we forget that principle. We all know what “buyer’s remorse” feels like — the regret that follows an impulsive purchase or a hasty decision. We can learn from those mistakes. We also know the satisfaction that came when we waited, held out for something better, and kept working and saving so that we could build a brighter future. We can learn from those experiences, too.
Yes, you do deserve to be happy. You deserve the kind of happiness that doesn’t come cheap and isn’t available “for a limited time only.” You deserve happiness that lasts more than an instant — it lasts forever.
Tuning in …
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.