#171 The Marshmallow Test

Can You Wait for Two?

As we recently discussed, Walter Mischel is one of the world’s leading researchers on the science of willpower. You’ve probably heard about his classic study called The Marshmallow Test.

Here’s the quick story: Preschool kids are brought into a simple little room. An adult tells the child that they’re going to leave the room for a bit and that she can have ONE treat (a marshmallow or pretzel or other treat) NOW or… If she can wait a little while, she can have TWO treats when the adult comes back into the room.

Then the adult leaves the room and the researchers watch the kids behind a one-way mirror to see what they do.

Some kids immediately go for the one treat while others make it through the twenty minutes to get their two treats.

But here’s the fascinating part of the study: Mischel and his team followed those preschool kids for DECADES after that simple little experiment.

To their surprise, the children’s low or high delay abilities as a preschooler predicted everything from their SAT scores as an adolescent to their BMI index at 30 years old. (Wow.)

Today’s +1.

We need to know two things:

1. Willpower is THE “master aptitude.” It’s the greatest predictor of all the things we want more of in our lives.
2. It’s malleable. We just need to practice building it. Good news: That’s basically what we’re doing with all these +1s. 😃

We’ve talked about Precommitments and Recommitments. If-Then Implementation Intentions and Bright Lines. And a ton of other goodness.

What’s your favorite Willpower practice?

Today a good day to put it to work?

P.S. Let’s remember: Sometimes going for that one marshmallow NOW is the wise and enjoyable thing to do. But we want to have the self-control to wait for two when that’s the optimal approach.

Here’s to +1ing your Willpower a little more today and enjoying all the treats along the way!

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