Don’t Eat the Marshmallow!!

The Marshmallow Experiment

So i recently came across something very very interesting with such a deep lesson that I thought to share! But first, watch this short three minute video above. LOL!
I’ll give a little background here…

So between the late 1960s and early 70s, a psychologist Walter Mischel who was then a professor at Stanford University, conducted a series of tests and experiments on young children; preschoolers to be precise to study and demonstrate the significance of delayed gratification in an individual as well as the importance of self control.

The experiment as seen in the video went as follows: each preschooler was taken into a an empty room with a chair and table upon which a plate of a single marshmallow was placed on it…let’s pause here for a moment…

I found out two interesting things. LOL. One, its not spelled “Marshmellow” even though most people spell it that way or it is sort of pronounced that way. Two, for those of us that are not aware of what a marshmallow is, I’ve put a picture here below:
It’s sort of a squishy soft candy that children (and loads of adults apparently) love to chew on.
Anyway, back to the experiments, so a researcher would then make an offer to the child: he/she could either eat the one marshmallow right away or if he/she was willing and patient enough to wait while the researcher stepped out for a few minutes, he/she could have two marshmallows when the researcher returned. Then the researcher would leave the room for what seemed to be hours on end to the children, but in reality, 15-20 mins max. Some children ate the candy almost immediately while others were deeply confused on whether to wait or eat that one right way, while some were able to wait and they got two marshmallows at the end. (Did you see the kid who thought no one was watching sneak a piece like nothing happened???!! *crying*…. that’s some of us by the way)
Interestingly enough, many years later(about 30-35 years later), the psychologist, Mischel and his research team tracked down the preschoolers (who are much older by now) and studied their lifestyles and it was found that the children who had waited for the second marshmallow generally fared better in life and were more successful. For example, studies showed that a child’s ability to delay eating the first treat would most likely result to the child performing better academically, earning more money, and be healthier and happier. The child would also most likely be able to avoid a number of negative outcomes, including jail time, obesity, and drug use.
Although some of these studies were criticised, we can relate to them in our everyday lives from an certain angle and I’ll explain how.
When it comes to us achieving our goals or concentrating on HVAs…I talked about this in my last post (you can read that here), sometimes we find that we instantly want to gratify our desires; for junk food that we find ourselves craving, to watch TV for hours on end, to engage in meaningless conversations that are in no way connected to our goals or the lifestyles we are trying to maintain and so on.
But I’ve found that if we can delay or even put off some of these acts when we know what the rewards would be much later and not put so much focus primarily on these LVAs, we would most likely fare better and do well in different aspects of life. A big example is if you’re trying to watch what you eat and live a healthier lifestyle or lose some weight, I’ve found that you must learn to “delay” the temptation of instantly gratifying “cravings” for junk food and focus on healthy foods constantly keeping in mind the reward of what would come later if you eat well and exercise (or gym well for those who want to have 10-packs). In fact, you can even delay the snack until your cheat day.
Another one is if you have a goal of reading a book; perhaps reading a book a month or taking an online course and the only spare time you have is when you’re done from work or in the evenings, you’ll most likely fare better and have greater success if you concentrated more on the HVAs that would lead you in the direction of achieving that goal rather than gratifying the pleasure of sitting in front to the TV and becoming a couch potato.
Also, if you’re trying to develop a better relationship with God through prayer and bible study, you would most likely fare better at that and see developments if you’re more self-controlled and disciplined and are able to delay the gratification of pleasures that can distract you from creating and spending those times with God. I’ve found that you can pray and sleep at the same time…just for those of us that lay in bed the extra 30 mins saying we’re praying while we keep falling asleep.
Remember, not every desire needs to be gratified at that very moment. In fact, most of it can be delayed especially when there is a reward waiting ahead. One way we can help achieve this I’ve found is by not concentrating so much on the desire or pleasure by magnifying it to the point where we feel like if we don’t have it at that moment, we would die. You would not die if you don’t have an ice cream for a month. Yup. I’m learning that one. And you most certainly would not die if you don’t watch TV for five hours in a day.
So as you go along today and the rest of the week, consciously identity those desires/pleasures/things that tend to “pop up” that are not directly in line with your goals and make you want to steer off track because you feel they must be gratified immediately and continue to practice self control and self-discipline in different aspects of your life. Perhaps you can get someone to hold you accountable.
And when next you’re tempted to instantly gratify those pleasures remember, DON’T EAT THE MARSHMALLOW!
Video source: Ignitermedia.com
Picture source: wonderopolis.org

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