One of the things that the pandemic taught us is that life is too short to be anything but happy. As the world began to face the reality of a new normal, the catchphrase “deserve ko ‘to!” exploded in Filipino pop culture.

The “deserve ko ‘to!” or “I deserve this!” mentality quickly caught fire on social media, giving Filipinos an excuse to justify their impulsive and sometimes lavish spending – applying to a wide range of things including food, clothing, gadgets, travel, hobbies, etc. It seems that after a period of lockdowns, quarantines, and travel restrictions, Filipinos became more open to spending their money on tangible (products) and intangible  (experiences) things in pursuit of a little happiness. 

Filipino celebrity Alden Richards thinks there’s nothing wrong with Pinoys’ inclination to the “deserve ko ‘to!” frame of mind. He said in an interview with that it’s okay to have a reward system in your life by buying something that you want, but keeping it in moderation. Richards also added that people who work hard for their money deserve to give themselves a treat every now and then. Do you agree that we should immediately “reward” ourselves when we feel like doing it? Or should we wait longer and delay the “prize” so we can look forward to something greater?

Before you give in to another “budol”, let’s learn about the idea behind “deserve ko ‘to” and delayed gratification. See how the distinctions between the two work for you.

Deserve ko 'to vs. Delayed Gratification:
What's the Difference?

What is the “deserve ko 'to” mentality?

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with messages that encourage us to seek instant gratification. Nowadays,we can have almost anything we want with just a few clicks. But what are the implications of always giving in to our impulses?

“Deserve ko ‘to” is synonymous with instant gratification wherein the individual seeks pleasure or satisfaction without delay. According to Positive Psychology, instant gratification refers to a person’s tendency to go for the option that results in the easiest or quickest form of reward, even if it means giving up the more rewarding future outcome or sacrificing a long-term goal. 

There are many examples of instant gratification in everyday life. For example, there are times when you might choose to eat junk food instead of cooking a healthy meal, watch your favorite K-Drama instead of working on your paper, or spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need.

What are the benefits of the “deserve ko 'to” mentality?

  • Increases mood and motivation – Getting what you want because you believe that you deserve it can give you a boost of dopamine. WebMD defines dopamine as a chemical messenger that transmits messages between nerve cells which plays a role in how you experience pleasure. This helps you feel good in the moment. 
  • Eases discomfort – Giving in to an instant reward can help you ease discomfort or pain. For example, eating a bag of chips can temporarily relieve hunger pangs.

What are the downsides of the “deserve ko ‘to” way of thinking?

  • Short-lived pleasure – Giving in to your impulses may give you pleasure but the feeling often fades quickly. 
  • Anxiety and stress – The fleeting pleasure may leave you feeling unsatisfied and wanting more which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and stress. 
  • Unhealthy behavior – According to Psychology Today, some instant gratification-fueled behavior may lead you away from good health choices and quality of life. Over time, poor decisions/behavior such as binging on calorie-laden food and unrestrained credit card shopping sprees may turn into unhealthy habits.

What is delayed gratification?

Delayed gratification is resisting the impulse of an instant reward in anticipation of a future greater reward. In the 1960s, Walter Mischel, a professor from Stanford, performed one of the best delayed gratification experiments called the “Marshmallow Test”. With children ages 3 – 5 years old as subjects, researchers placed each child in an empty, private room, with one marshmallow placed on the table. Researchers explained to each child that if he/she refrained from eating the marshmallow while they left the room, the child would get another marshmallow as a reward. But if the child ate the marshmallow, he/she would not get a second one. According to the experiment, the children who exhibited delayed gratification did better in certain areas of life, including academics, social skills, mental health, and overall well-being.

Here are a few examples of delayed gratification:

At 35, Althea finally landed her dream job. It’s high-paying and she finally gets to do something she actually likes doing. She often gets the urge to splurge on clothes and shoes, now that she can actually afford them. But she decided she won’t give in to temptation because she’s been wanting to get a new car for a while. After 3 years of thrift, Althea is finally driving her own car.

Your friends keep getting coffee from this popular coffee shop. You thought it’d be nice if you could do that too, but you’d rather save the money ‘cause you’ve been thinking of getting an HMO plan. You’ve been hospitalized before and you know how hard it hit you when you had to shell out Php 68,000 for the procedures, so you don’t want that happening again. You heard about Medicare Plus’ health care plans and after saving a sufficient amount of money, you got a family plan so your loved ones are covered too. The following week, your parents immediately got to use their health card which was convenient for everyone.

What are the benefits of delayed gratification?

  • Builds perseverance and self-control – Learning to resist the temptation of receiving immediate rewards will enable you to cultivate a strong sense of self-control. It also encourages you to persevere and put in more effort to reach your objectives.
  • Helps to motivate you to achieve your goals – Knowing there’s something you can look forward to despite the sacrifices serves as a strong motivation.
  • Greater success and personal fulfillment – As exemplified in the “Marshmallow Test”, research suggests that delayed gratification can foster qualities such as patience, discipline, and the ability to focus on what you want to achieve.

What is delayed gratification?

  • Overthinking – When you always delay gratification, it might lead you to overthink your decisions because of fear of making the wrong choices. Overthinking may also result in procrastination.
  • Loss of spontaneity – When you constantly put aside an immediate reward in favor of a better one in the future, you may lose the ability to enjoy spontaneous moments.


Whether it’s “deserve ko ‘to” or delayed gratification, it’s best to weigh our options before deciding. If you’ve been practicing delayed gratification for some time, you can spice things up by gifting yourself with something spontaneous, especially if you know you deserve it.

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