Do you know about the Marshmallow Test?
It is an experiment on delayed gratification conducted in the late sixties at by at Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel.
The test was straightforward. A group of children are taken one by one into a room where there is marshmallow on the table. The tester tells them that they can eat the marshmallow, but if they wait for a short period without touching it, they will receive a second one.
Then the tester leaves the room for approximately 15 minutes, so the child is left alone with the marshmallow.
Some resisted until the tester came back and received the second marshmallow. Others gave up and ate the one they have in front of them.
The researchers kept monitoring the children while they were growing up. They found out that the ones who were able to resist the temptation of the immediate gratification and wait longer for the bigger reward ended up with better life outcomes according to many parameters.
I’m sure many different factors contribute to our outcomes in life, but I believe that the ability aim for the long run is a critical one.
Observing how people operate around me, including me, I can see how we are constantly pressured to favour instant gratification. It’s how everyone who has something to sell gets our attention.
What about you? Can you wait for the bigger prize?