An important research that was conducted on kids (back then, that was a thing!) was when kids were offered 1 marshmallow that they can eat then and there or to be patient for 15 minutes to get double the reward of 2 beautiful, fluffy, delicious, sugary and highly tempting marshmallows.
The research then tracked those kids through school and careers and found out that those who were able to patiently delay their gratification fared much better than those who felt the need to instantly gratify their needs.
When I read this research, it hit hard. It resonated so effectively with how my life has been going – poorly! And I realized it is because I never was trained to wait patiently.
I always wanted the reward before the effort.Loser me
When I began to dig deeper into this question, initially I thought it probably is just pure genetics. Some have the patience, while some still have their fight-or-flight at supercharged levels. Instant gratification just meant that you’re still living the wild style. You see the prey and you go for it.
I got two boys, ages 6 and 4. And I cannot allow my foul genes to undermine their abilities to succeed. And so I began wondering whether one can be trained in the art of delayed gratification. The art of realizing that 2 marshmallows is definitely a better choice. At least for most situations.
To do that, I basically repeat the same experiment many times over (with variations of course, I don’t want them to catch up to my games). I would offer to buy them a toy that they don’t quite like or tell them to wait a couple of days to get the ‘better version’. When I see that they are in their fight-or-flight mode (daddy mode), I reason with them. I explain to them how they can talk their brains (or hearts or God knows what weird sensory organs) out of the bad deal they are about to get into.
My experiments have so far been successful. Training them coupled with teaching them to reason logically, judge themselves when they are being biased and to step back and re-assess situations might prove to be the reason why (if they do) succeed in life.
As for me… I was supposed to be asleep by 23:00. But, I love procrastinating. I made a whole website just to type this blog. (Well, I technically didn’t make any website… just clicked a few buttons).