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Shreyo,Preyo and Delayed Gratification

Shreyo, Preyo, and Delayed Gratification - recently I came across these expressions, of which the first two I was already familiar with, but not in the context of the third one. Shreyo and Preyo, are of course Sanskrit words from our timeless Upanishads. The last one - Delayed Gratification, was used by Dr Scott Peck, Psychologist (M.D) and author of the hugely popular 70's book 'The Road Less Traveled'.

Shreyo is something that's ultimately good for you, even though you may or may not like it at first.

Preyo, on the other hand gives you instant gratification, but it may not be ultimately good for you. In Bengal, baby girls are often named 'Shreyoshee', while 'Preyoshee' is what you call your girlfriend/lover - point to ponder! :D

So you're a school-going kid, and you've returned home from play, and its early in the evening. You want to watch cartoons on TV, but your parents have strictly instructed you to do your homework first. Cartoons are Preyo to you, but homework is Shreyo for  you. Glum-faced, you sit down to do your homework - parents after all, know what's best.

Delayed Gratification can also be illustrated with the above example. Ideally, children are taught this from an early age. 'Wash your hands before you can have that cookie!'  Cookie is preyo, washing hands is a chore - but you must delay your gratification, else you may get bad stomach from filthy hands. Delayed Gratification thus instills a sense of discipline in us, according to Dr Peck.

Children encouraged to instantly gratify their whims/senses often grow up as indisciplined, impulsive, self-obsessed individuals, he explains. As adults too, Delayed Gratification can help us ward off various undesirable tendencies. As example, procrastination, or putting off of doing what must be done now. A procrastinator thus seldom gets things done in time. No wonder we have this proverb - 'a stitch in time saves nine'.

Then he goes on to site a case from his files, in which a woman (anonymous) would spend the first hour at office doing what she enjoyed doing the most. As example, in modern times this could be catching up with friends by email, chatting, surfing, shopping online, etc. For the next six hours at office, she would reluctantly slog through the day's chores. This left her depleted, depressed, and with very little enthusiam. Hence she consulted the doctor ultimately.

Dr Peck advised her to delay her gratification, that is, reverse the schedule. Do stuff that you dislike, but what you must do, at the beginning of your shift. Reserve that one hour of relaxation for the very last - he advised. In other words, gratify yourself only as a reward for a period of hard work, and not at the first impulse. Delay it as something  you would continue to look forward to, so that the essentials/chores retain some meaning or purpose for you. Purposeless in life, as we know from our ancient scriptures, is Tamasic - or a state of darkness, stupor, stagnation, or lethargy.

I thought this was an excellent bridging of thoughts - the Preyo/Shreyo concept with Delayed Gratification, between the ancient and the modern, in bringing a sense of discrimination to our daily conduct.

 Nov 2014

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