In 1972 a study was conducted called the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. Young children were given a single marshmallow and told that if they did not eat it for 20 minutes they would get another one. If they ate it they would not get another one. Some of the children could not wait the 20 minutes and ate the marshmallow. Other children could wait and received a second marshmallow after the 20 minute wait. This of course is a test of our ability to delay immediate gratification for the promise of a greater reward later on.
The study then tracked these children through adolescence. They found that the children who could wait for the second marshmallow were better adjusted children, were more successful in school and more likely to successfully attend college. They got better grades and scored higher on aptitude tests. You can actually watch these children in this study in this three minute video.
We naturally see waiting for something as a form of deprivation. It takes more wisdom and self-control to see that postponing immediate gratification can pay off greatly in the long run. Rather than seeing this as deprivation, we can learn to see it as an investment in our future.
Each of us is in this marshmallow test every day. The way we spend our time and our money is the same kind of marshmallow test. Those of us who are better at postponing that immediate gratification reap much greater rewards over the long term. Those who cannot wait get less out of life.
In today’s articles we explore various forms of “deprivation” through spending less money and more wisely using our time. The more we can see this not as deprivation but as an investment in our future the more successful we can be. Like most lessons of success, this is a simple lesson to learn, but not an easy one to live.
Are you an impulsive marshmallow eater, or can you wait to double your marshmallow enjoyment? The answer may well decide how fruitful your life will be and how much wealth you will build. Replace the idea of deprivation with the idea of investment and you will reap the benefit time and again throughout your life.
Daniel R. Murphy
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.