Today I’d like to share quite a famous psychological experiment with you guys. An experiment every single one of the people reading this will be familiar with. If not directly, you will be indirectly. Be it in your life (which is highly probable) or in the life of someone you know. I’d say the sum of these two probabilities is one. I’m talking about instant, or, immediate gratification.
When we fall prey to the phenomenon of instant gratification, we fail to resist the urge of short-term (insignificant) pleasures versus long-term (significant) gains. We sin one time too often and drink that delicious glass of Muruve wine or that marvelous new edition of Leffe Royale (no advertisement, but you can always contact me or send some samples) in stead of keeping ourselves to our diet with one cheater moment a week and fail to meet our monthly decline in kilos. Or we skip one or two nights working on that assignment because we missed our friends too much. After all we didn’t see them for three days already! Resulting in a missed deadline, failed exam, and university debacle. Maybe you recognize the story of postponing that visit to the gym because there is an immensely interesting program on, which somehow couldn’t be recorded. But as often the case, tomorrow never comes.
A salient topic in this regard, which I don’t want to be left unspoken and touch very shortly, is climate change. It’s a huge, inclusive, global example of immediate gratification. We want to eat that meat now, we want to keep the money now (instead of isolating our homes), we want to be alone in the car to work now, we don’t want to wait until we encounter a trashcan, we want to take a long shower now. Of course, in this regard, the short-term gains are indeed still more or less quite significant. But relatively speaking…
Alright. In the case these examples didn’t paint the picture clearly enough, I have a short video of the marshmallow experiment I was referring to in the introductory paragraph. If it was clear enough, I’d suggest you watch it anyway, solely for the reason that it’s fun.
Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself
Aren’t they cute??? I know, right? Hilarious! Let’s watch them again… Anyways! The intriguing thing about this video, is that it is fairly possible to predict which of these children will be more successful in ten and twenty years on a variety of topics and which ones less so. Make a wild guess. Well done! The ones who are able to delay gratification, on average turn out to be more successful. It’s a matter of self-control. A matter of controlling your impulses and emotions. Impulses don’t take into account long-term consequences. Making decisions when emotional is NEVER A GOOD IDEA, GOD DAMNIT!! Sorry….
Good News People! As we humans are equipped with the capacity for life long learning, it’s never too late to develop that invaluable ingredient for success. The ingredient for loosing weight, for gaining muscles, for more money in your pocket, for succeeding at business or school, for a better world. The more I am writing here on this website, the more I discover how the ingredients of achieving your goals, big or small, are interconnected. Fun fact is, that we both (Michel and I) already shared some articles that lead to an increase of deferred, or, delayed gratification. I’d say, read on (or read again)!
- Know thyself (two links, one per word)
- Know the moments you get weak. Be honest with yourself. From the moment on you know your weaknesses in and out, you’ll be able to recognize them in time and interfere with them when they come up. “Woops! No wine for me today!”.
- Ask yourself this question
- You don’t even need to read the whole article. Find the question Michel proposed. Instant and delayed gratification is a matter decision making. Deciding to eat or drink the forbidden fruit, deciding to watch House of Cards, deciding to throw that litter over your shoulder.
- Educate yourself
- “Knowlegde is potential power” – Tony Robbins. The easiest way to gain knowledge is described in this article. It’ll help you to get where you need to be. Point three is in perfect alignment with point one.
- One step at a time
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. Ever! It’s demotivating. It might seem like you save time, but in the end you’ll loose it. Here’s how to avoid that.
- Learn to love the process
- Don’t focus too much on that goal of yours. That is what can make it overwhelming, especially if you dream big. Love the little wins, and celebrate them.
- Always remember, good things don’t come easy.
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