The relationship between marshmallows, delayed gratification and life success.
Let me back up a bit. I was lucky enough to have dinner with my good friend, Allen Lim, on Saturday. Allen is a genius and I love picking his brain, hearing his stories, etc. On top of his vast knowledge of exercise physiology, he's also quite the philosopher/psychologist. I was talking to him about my life and where I'm at right now, which sparked him to tell me what I'm now about to tell you.
It's so good, and something I have to share.
The Marshmallow Experiment
There was a psychologist back in the '60s who noticed kids around age 4 first began to show traits of self-discipline. He decided to test a group of kids and note the varying levels of self-discipline, particularly how one's level of self-discipline plays a role in delaying immediate gratification in order to achieve goals and long-term success.
The experiment was simple.... The psychologist took kids one by one into a room and made an offer: the child could eat one marshmallow now, or, if the child waited for the psychologist to leave and come back, the child could have TWO marshmallows when he returned. He then left the room leaving one marshmallow sitting on a table in front of the child -- essentially, leaving it up to the kid if he or she would eat ONE now, or wait and get TWO later. He was gone for 10-15 minutes, and what happened was fascinating.
Results were all over the place -- some chose to eat one marshmallow immediately, while some kids held strong and waited so they could have two, arguably the better choice (two is always better than one, right? lol). However, the psychologist didn't really know what to make of the results.... until years later....
The kids from the original study were contacted when they were seniors in high school, and what was found was amazing -- there was a direct correlation between the kids' choice of one or two marshmallows and how they were doing in school and life. Specifically, the kids who waited for two marshmallows (i.e. delaying gratification and practicing high self-discipline) had higher SAT scores, while the kids who ate the one right away had lower SAT scores and tended to struggle more in school, life, etc. The same people were then followed throughout life, and similar trends of success rates were found -- and it all related back to those traits of self-control that they exhibited at 4 years old.
The point is: Delayed gratification and self-discipline is the key to success in life.
According to www.sybervision.com regarding the results of this study: "The resisters [those who waited for 2 marshmallows] were more positive, self-motivating, persistent in the face of difficulties, and able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. They had the habits of successful people which resulted in more successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfilling lives than most of the population.
Those having grabbed the [one] marshmallow were more troubled, stubborn and indecisive, mistrustful, less self-confident, and still could not put off gratification. They had trouble subordinating immediate impulses to achieve long-range goals. When it was time to study for the big test, they tended to get distracted into doing activities that brought instant gratifciation This impulse followed them throughout their lives and resulted in unsucessful marriages, low job satisfaction and income, bad health, and frustrating lives.
To see this study in action click here, it's actually very funny to watch these kids stress out.
~~~Anyways, I think Allen's point to me was that I represent the kid who waits for two marshmallows given my current life circumstances -- or at least I hope that was his point :)
This study can also relate to our sports and how we approach triathlon or whatever we do... God knows that for most of us endurance sport requires a lot of patience in terms of developing ability, and if you can wait and stick to it, as rough as it gets as times, the payoff is worth it.
So what about you?
Which kid would you be?
One marshmallow, or two?
And, btw, hopefully, after reading this you'll be able to practice self-discipline regarding my blog meaning if you can wait now, come back later and the'll be good stuff for ya... delayed gratification in action right here folks lol ;)