I read somewhere there is a theory that the delay of gratification (D.O.G.) or, to put it simply, the exciting bit before you actually get something you want, is one of the key factors to having a happy life.
For example; remember how we looked forward to getting a present when we were kids? It was a stupendously exciting time, the anticipation was almost unbearable. Nights of falling asleep grinning gleefully at the thought of what was to come. Then when the fabled toy we had desired for months finally came into our possession it was very often a massive let down. We ended up playing more with the box. It was the bit before getting it that was most enjoyable. As adulthood encroached we found a similar thing with sex. Foreplay is so much more exciting than the finale and can last as long as you want.
So in theory, the more time we spend not getting what we want but knowing we might get it, the happier we should be. That would explain why not all, but some of the richest people I’ve met have been the most dissatisfied and miserable. Wealth does not equal happiness; we all know that deep down.
Enjoyment can get even greater when we are actively working towards a far-off goal; knowing that the thing, the light, the summit of your quest is a result of your own hard work and patience makes it all the more gratifying.
Playing a musical instrument encompasses all the above.
You have a passion for music and wish to express yourself through it. But the road is long and hard and your goal seems to get further and further away the more you learn. The possibilities seem infinite and so tantalising. Your goals constantly shift as you move forward. Early on, just mastering a few chords, you tell yourself, will give you joy. But as soon as one goal is achieved, another pops up in its place. A bittersweet relationship develops between you and your instrument. A passionate, joyous, frustrating and bewitching journey which will last for the rest of your life. A wonderful journey.
You develop your own style which, regardless of your ability is truly unique. Like a fingerprint. No one in the world although they may be technically more proficient, will be able to play exactly like you. And no one can take that away from you. That is a wonderful thing.
Is playing guitar the secret to happiness? It is certainly essential for mine.
And I’m pretty sure I now also believe in DOG.
David Wallings, Strings Direct