In the 1960’s Michael Mischel, a research psychologist from Stanford University gave some 4- year-old children a marshmallow to eat. He then told them, that if they waited till he returned from an errand to eat the marshmallow they could have two marshmallows.
Some of the children ate their marshmallow as soon as the researcher left the room. Other children waited a few minutes before eating their marshmallow. And about one-third of the children decided to wait, to delay gratification, control impulse, for a bigger reward.
And here’s where the story gets interesting.
Fast forward 15 years and the differences we see between the ones that waited to eat their marshmallow and the ones that didn’t wait are dramatic.
The hold outs, the ones that delayed their immediate desires, were found to be more self-motivating, more persistent in the face of difficulties and continued to delay gratification in the pursuit of their goals. They had the habits of successful people. They had successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfilling lives than most of the population.
Those that didn’t wait to eat their marshmallow were found to be more troubled, stubborn, mistrustful, and less self-confident. They were found to have less than satisfying careers, marriages and lower satisfaction with life. And they were still were not delaying their gratification, instead they were subordinating immediate impulses to achieving longer range goals.
It is clear that delaying gratification is in our best interest. This research proves that case.
Would you have eaten the marshmallow or would you have waited?
For those of us that would have gobbled up our marshmallow and not waited I ask the following:
What would have helped you delay the need for instant gratification?
- What could had someone said or done that would have helped you not eat the marshmallow?
- What would have helped to change your behavior?
- What would you need to learn and apply to get a different result?
These questions center on coaching and modeling which are vital keys to obtaining different results.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.