Clipping #1: Delayed Gratification

Walter Mischel* is a psychology professor at Columbia University. He has taught at Stanford, Harvard and the University of Colorado. He is known for his extensive research on delayed gratification.

He designed a test to study willpower known as “the marshmallow test” that led to many findings including what happens over time to those who waited for the second treat. What happened to those who delayed instant gratification for a second marshmallow was that they did better in school, achievement, drug resistance, lower rates of marriage breakup, fewer law violations and even lower body-mass index numbers than those who failed to that level of self-control. Not bad for believing that putting immediate temptation aside would lead to something better and exercising the willpower to put that belief to the test.

Clinical Professor of Neurology Richard Restak finds the “controlled-deliberate system” of the brain that includes foreseeing consequences and preferring more late to less now gets better the longer we stick with managing the short-term, long-term stuff for the longer term benefits.

These deeply researched findings lead to some interesting questions.

  • To what extent do we make decisions based on the quickie versus the long-term benefits?
  • To what extent does our society encourage us to pay the price for the long-term benefits?
  • What difference would it make in our lives if we waited for the second marshmallow in our careers, our families, the values we take seriously to guide our lives, and the commitments we make to others?

*Footnotes: Walter Mischel, The marshmallow Test — Mastering Self-Control, 2014, Little, Brown and Company

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