Time to take some time out for a quick sidebar:
I sort of take it for granted that people reading this blog know about the marshmallow test.
But in case you’re not familiar with it, I’ll summarize. It’s all about delayed gratification.
The idea is simple. Find yourself a kid, maybe six years old. Everybody likes marshmallows. They’re pure sugar and taste awesome to mammals of all sorts. So you say to this kid, you can have one marshmallow right now, or you can have two if you can just wait fifteen minutes.
As the study reveals, children who managed to wait fifteen minutes for a marshmallow didn’t just get twice as many goodies. They also tended to do better in life. This is because they could delay gratification. Knowing a better reward was coming, they were able to forego pleasure in the moment.
So they could, say, do homework on a Monday night instead of looking at youtube videos of cats playing piano, because they felt that they’d get a far better payoff later on. They were able to shut out the need for instant gratification by focusing on the future.
I’m pretty sure I would have passed the marshmallow test with flying colors.
The only question is: Would I have actually eaten the two marshmallows?
Or would I have asked to wait a full year so I could get 35,040 instead?