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The Power and Pitfalls of Saving the Best for Last

Updated on September 26, 2015
HealthbyMartha profile image

I'm a Certified Health Coach who wants to help you create the best balance of spiritual, physical and mental health that is possible.

Are you someone who likes to Save the Best for Last?

It occurs to me how much of the time I like to make a practice of saving the best for last. This can be as simple as not eating the blue M&M's until I've finished all the other colors, or it could mean that I over eat a big meal because of my wish to have the very last bite be the "best" bite!

I have a pretty strong Hedonistic side which if indulged might result in the saving of a pleasure until the very last so as to savor it longer. That might be dessert, a drink, a perfect bite of an enjoyable meal or even time spent in a given day.

On the surface it makes perfect sense to want to relish the very best and to delay it by choosing other things first. But, what happens when this pattern results in eating too much while holding the cherished bite until the last. Or spending too much money or time on other pursuits while waiting to enjoy the "best" later? Or, never enjoying the best at all because time runs out?!

I wish to examine how we might be inadvertently holding back with the intention of enjoying the best thing last, and we might never get to enjoy it! What if we delay so long as to lose the opportunity?

I am going to explore why we need to relish everything as it comes to us and be more mindful of not saving the best for last and possibly missing out on the joy's to be had in the moment.

The Time is Now

For as long as I can remember I've tried to save my favorite things for "special" occasions. For instance, my favorite fragrance is expensive and so I use it sparingly. I won't argue with the rationale to husband our resources and to be frugal. But, what I began to notice was that I almost never wore my favorite fragrance because there weren't enough "special" occasions that I deemed good enough! So, instead I'm using a fragrance that I like, but don't love and thinking that will make the cherished fragrance last and last.

But, nothing lasts forever and fragrances; even the expensive ones; will lose their potency and become sour over time. What good is waiting for special occasions only to find that when one finally comes along the cherished fragrance is now no good?! I found it very liberating recently when I started wearing my favorite fragrance for any outing that I chose! I loved smelling my fragrance as I sat at dinner with my social group and it felt even more special to me for indulging my senses a bit.

Erma Bombeck, a famous humorist I have long admired, is known for writing about living in the moment and not waiting until something special. After she had been diagnosed with Cancer, she noted that time was running out and if she had it to do over again she would have used the "good" china for regular meals, instead of waiting for special occasions; she would have worn her favorite clothes and perfumes, eaten her favorite foods and not always delayed her gratification for a special occasion or time. She left a lasting impression on me with her writings and it was poignant to realize that she herself ran out of time in the end.

I recall studying Childhood Psychology while in Nursing School in the early 1980's. The work of Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs theory has stuck with me these many years later. I am thinking about the final stage of "Self Actualization" and the much earlier stage of "Delayed Gratification" as they go hand in hand.

It makes sense that as younger people we delay our gratification by working hard and attaining goals that we set for ourselves. It makes for a good work ethic to put off one's personal happiness and pleasure to instead focus on building a foundation of financial and social security. Once we've done these tasks of finding good employment, providing housing and paying our bills, we can relax and allow ourselves some time to experience pleasure.

But, what if we get stuck along the way in our development and we just keep delaying our gratification? We might become slaves to work and no pleasure. Or, like myself, we may indulge, but feel that we have to put things on the back burner or justify their use only when it is deemed "special" enough.

What good is it to work hard all of one's life to attain the pleasures you desire only to never enjoy them because you don't ever feel that you deserve to? Why bother to own special dishes, good perfume, special clothes and foods, if you aren't ever going to allow yourself to enjoy them?

Let's explore further how we may be holding ourselves back from the fullness of life and learn how to start living now!

Today Might be all we've got; make it Special

I think that it's comforting to have something set aside for the future. And, when we save something that we deem the "best" for later, that is a bit like a savings account for a rainy day. How nice to know that one day when I have a really special date, or an outing with somebody I particularly admire, that I can wear my best dress, my best perfume and order my favorite foods.

But, what if that special date doesn't happen? What if I get busy living my life and my good clothes just gather dust and fall out of fashion; my perfume turns to vinegar and when that special date does come along I no longer have anything special to wear? How sad it would be to realize that the time has come and gone without having ever enjoyed that beautiful dress I bought for a special occasion, or to have worn the fragrance that makes me feel extra beautiful and sexy.

What if instead I chose to wear my favorite perfume when I go to the grocery store, or to work because I can?! What if I wore my favorite new dress the next opportunity I have instead of leaving it in my closet for a "special" occasion? Will the world come to an end? Will I never again get to wear special perfume or my favorite clothes?

I think the opposite is true. By indulging my whim to wear something special, or go somewhere I enjoy now, not later, I'm creating a happier life. Each time I smell my favorite fragrance on my skin, or see myself in my new, fabulous dress I'm experiencing a sense of abundance. Abundance is a wonderful gift we give to ourselves! The gift of abundance keeps on giving as the more we focus on abundance, the more abundance we will have. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Who doesn't want more abundance? I know that I am always open to more of it for myself. I believe that we create our reality by the thoughts that we think, the actions we take and what we focus on with intent.

I choose to focus on gratitude and abundance, which go hand in hand. The more I am deliberately grateful, the more I find that I have to be grateful for. It's like Karmic law and I've seen it repeatedly in my own life.

So, it's also a bit of living in faith. Faith that there will be enough and that the best in fact can happen first, second and last! The best is not something that has to be delayed, it can be enjoyed and embraced at any stage along the way.

If you have been working to achieve something, it is only reasonable to reward your hard efforts. Every single day is special because you are alive!

It is fine to want to have your dessert last because you want the last flavor on your tongue to linger. Maybe you are holding on to a favorite dress or pair of shoes for an event that is in the near future; one which is expected and not just a hoped for "special" occasion. In this case it makes sense to save something for later.

But, in one's day to day life I think it's a good idea to start living like today is the only day you've got! I, like Erma Bombeck, am going to start living my life like each day is the only one I get. To that end, I will wear the clothes I want to wear, the fragrance I love the most, and eat the foods that I enjoy! Tomorrow might never come, so I plan on enjoying my life in the moment.

Are you a "save the best for last" kind of person? Do you recognize areas where you are deferring your gratification for a "special" day and see how you may be denying yourself pleasure in the moment? If any of this resonates with you, try to take steps toward allowing yourself the joy's of enjoying the best things now! Maybe you only wear your favorite perfume once a month when you have a special outing or date. Could you try wearing it once a week instead? Or, perhaps instead of saving your favorite foods for the last bite, try savoring the bites of your favorite foods first, and then finishing your meal. You might find that you eat less of the less favorite foods because you aren't holding them back.

Whatever steps you can take to embrace living your life fully in the moment will be steps in the right direction. Don't delay so long to enjoy the fruits of your labors that you miss out enjoying them at all! You deserve to enjoy the abundance of your life right now!


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    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Jody. I find it a balance of looking forward and remaining present.

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      Jody 2 years ago

      I really enjoyed this. I'm always on a countdown to retirement. I've had a lot of people tell me to love and live everyday, not to wish my life away. We must savor everything thing that we have and as you have said befor love the life you have. Thanks again for another great article.

    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      thanks for reading Dr Rangan. I agree, the future is not a promise, we only have now!

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      Dr Pran Rangan 2 years ago

      Nice write up. True, we should live life in day-tight compartments savoring every moment of the day. No one knows what is there for us in store next moment! Thanks a lot.

    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Carolyn for reading and taking the time to share your feelings as well. I have been denying myself for so long with this behavior and really want to shift into living more in the moment!

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 2 years ago from South Dakota, USA

      I remember someone telling me, "life is short: eat dessert first." That always stayed with me. What if I really, really wanted that german chocolate cake, and didn't get to eat it because I was saving it "for last," and either was full at the end of the meal, or there was none left. Of course, you need to be "adult" about your choices, and eat your veggies too. But don't deny yourself "the good stuff." Loved reading your hub!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      you're welcome Martha! I love the pics, too!

    • HealthbyMartha profile image
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      Martha Montour 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you RTalloni for taking the time to read and to comment. Enjoy your perfume! thank you Kristen for reading and so happy to be of inspiration!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub, Martha. It's so inspirational and motivational and true to form on how to live life.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      An interesting read that I enjoyed looking at from the perspective of being a Christian. Lots to ponder here so thanks for some good thinks! Btw, I began wearing my perfume more often a few years ago and it is indeed quite liberating.