Have Fun Shopping this Holiday Season. (Yes, it’s Totally Possible.)

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You might think practicing delayed gratification during the holidays will zap your holiday cheer, but studies show it can actually improve your quality of life. While your friends are suffering a holiday spending hangover, you could be waltzing into the New Year with an improved perspective on spending.

The Science of Delayed Gratification

The Stanford marshmallow experiment offered children a simple choice: one marshmallow now or two in 15 minutes. They even made the kids look at the marshmallow. Rough, right? But follow-up studies found that children waited for their marshmallows tended to have a better quality of life.

What’s more, a University of Rochester study reported that delayed gratification was less about willpower and more about worldview. Think about your perception of spending. Do you want to grab while the grabbing’s good at the expense of a better tomorrow?

Practice Delayed Gratification This Christmas

More than just changing habits, try to rethink the way you view spending. Researchers who ran the marshmallow experiment found that you can improve your self-control with a technique called “self-distancing”, which simply requires you to picture yourself as fly on the wall to give yourself the distance to reflect on a spending decision.

No one wants to be paying for a holiday splurge until the summer comes. As you wrap up your holiday shopping this week, take a step back and give your mind a chance to cool off and gain perspective. You might want to play Santa this holiday season, but we both know revolving debt can be a real Grinch.