In many religions and traditions, the element of sacrificing something useful to appease the gods is a common theme. For example, in the bible, we see several instances of different characters offering burnt offerings to God. We also see a case of God prompting Abraham to sacrifice his only son. In the ultimate sacrifice, God offers his only son, Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice to salvage mankind.
These stories have a psychological significance today. It seems we can’t become like the gods if we don’t sacrifice something dear to us. To become like the gods is a representation of transforming into the ideal person who was created in God’s image. The element of sacrifice appears in many forms today. To become an exceptional doctor you must spend several grueling years in medical school. To become wealthy you must sacrifice leisure and comfort to pursue unbearable risks. To become the person you wish to be, you must sacrifice who you are.
Through sacrifice, we are able to bargain with the future. An act of sacrifice today represents a potential gem tomorrow. We can make the future better by making sacrifices today.
This idea of sacrifice is synonymous with the concept of delayed gratification. Several studies show that people who are able to delay gratification end up generally more successful compared to their peers.
So in which areas should we sacrifice something? We can sacrifice luxuries and instead save some cash. We can sacrifice leisure for learning and work. We can sacrifice ignorance for knowledge. We can sacrifice comfort for labor and enterprise. We can sacrifice our time in pursuit of meaningful projects.
Sacrifice is difficult, but it’s the only sure path to progress.