Why I Got Really Excited About Eating A Pickle Last Night

March 24, 2011

I ate a pickle last night.

Now, to you, that may not sound like a big deal. But for me, it was huge. 

Here’s why: my family has been on a very strict diet for the last few weeks. A month ago, I could’ve eaten a pickle and not thought about it twice. But last night, I was relishing (no pun intended) the savory cucumber anthem that was making my taste buds stand up and sing! On a scale of one to ten, the experience of eating a pickle would’ve been a 3 one month ago. But last night it was a 7!

And that got me to thinking. The exact same experience (eating a pickle) was totally different, based on the context. The reason I enjoyed it so much last night was because I had not let myself eat one for thirty days. (You know you’re on a strict diet when a pickle is a splurge!)

Here’s the point: by saying NO to a desire, it intensified my enjoyment of it. It’s a powerful principle when you think about it. Is it possible that we could go through life denying ourselves and enjoying lots of “7 experiences” instead of living a boring life of “3 experiences”?

We live in a society that can’t say no. We want what we want. And we want it now. We spend money we don’t have (aka borrowing) because we can’t wait. We can’t say no. Parents can’t say no to their children. Employees can’t say no to their bosses. And we can’t even say no to ourselves; our desires and impulses. (We are in quite a pickle.)

The tragic thing is that by giving in and not being able to say no, we actually cheapen things. I could care less about a pickle a month ago. But now I couldn’t wait to eat one! Saying no for awhile made it more special; I looked forward to it more, enjoyed it more.

That’s the spirit of fasting. Delayed gratification. That’s why a vacation is so special. We have to say no for 50 weeks out of the year; so we anticipate those two weeks off! We plan, get excited, and look forward to it. If we vacationed 50 weeks out of the year, that wouldn’t be the case.

The couple who delay the gratification of intimacy until marriage will appreciate it more. The little boy who’s had his leg in a cast will enjoy running more once it’s off than he ever did before. The teenager who works two jobs and saves every penny for years to buy a car will appreciate the car more than if it had been given to them by their parents without a price.

Delayed gratification increases pleasure and appreciation.

Have you had a “pickle experience” that made you appreciate something more? I would love to hear about it! You can comment here.