I find them all over the house. Each time, I chuckle. There they are, “hidden” in plain sight. The attempt to conceal has failed, but he doesn’t give up -- the corners of my rooms prove it.
Of course I’m talking about Toto and his penchant for hiding things. When I give him a treat, he scoops it up and scurries away. At first, I thought this behavior was odd. Why hide it instead of eat it? But then I remembered his past -- how he likely had to fight with 15 other big dogs for food. Hiding something from the pack was quite possibly the only way he could prevent his special treat from being snatched away.
While this sounds like a valid theory, I think there’s more to it. I’ll just come right out with it — my dog is a genius! Clearly, he’s saving it. He’s planting something to look forward to on those lazy summer days ahead. With each Waggin’ Train chicken jerky tender acquired, he invests in his future happiness, intentionally choosing to delay gratification. Could it be that my six-pound rescue is onto something?
Clearly Toto doesn’t understand that we live in an instant gratification world. We want what we want -- NOW! Why wait for a week when Amazon Prime can deliver it in two days? Why not email or call ahead your list and have your groceries ready at the curb? Why delay that shopping trip until you have the cash when you can charge it? Why choose to wait for anything?
While cutting our wait time may appear to streamline our efficiency, there is, unfortunately, a flip side. In the process of developing an on-demand world we are creating a culture of impatience and painting a tainted view of reality. The evidence of this is beginning to show up in the workplace. According to Talent Economy contributor Ryan Jenkins, “A consistent complaint about millennials is their unrealistic timeline for being promoted. They want a pay bump in a few months, a promotion a few months later, and the title of CEO by end of their first year.”
When my kids were young, I would often use the time we spent standing in the grocery check-out line as a teachable moment, saying, “Well now we have time to practice our patience.” Rolling eyes or disgusted looks would usher in my follow-up remarks, “Obviously, we’re not really good at it so we’ll have to keep practicing. It’s a good thing we have this long line!” Practice patience? Is that really necessary? Only if we want to get good at it.
Patience. It’s not only a virtue, it’s a necessity for many of life’s most important decisions -- finding a spouse, raising children, leading a healthy lifestyle, building close relationships, buying our first home, reaching career goals. These relationships or achievements do not happen overnight — they are all the result of a process. And processes take time.
So now with each Toto treat I discover in expected and sometimes surprising places, I smile and am grateful for this reminder of the gift of delayed gratification.
“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31