The Marshmallow Test: Delay Gratification for Results

marshmallows with text reading the marshmallow test

Whenever I see ads for a new diet, they call to mind The Marshmallow Test.

“Amazing new breakthrough in nutrition science!” screamed the headline as I was scrolling through a news story online.

“Incredible new discovery allows you to lose 10 pounds per week, safely, easily with NO dieting or exercise.”

And on and on it went. The usual opening paragraphs extolling the benefits and virtues of the amazing new discovery, followed by the most amazing before and after photos of clients enthusiastically illustrating how this new miracle product helped them shed years of weight gain in just a matter of weeks.

And then, the obligatory click here for your free sample. But hurry, supplies are extremely limited and once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

Followed by even more glowing testimonials.

And then… “And to show how confident we are that you will be absolutely delighted with this product, if you order a one-year supply in the next nanosecond, we will take 99% off the price and ship it to you TODAY. Heck, we will even pay the shipping but, and pay very close attention to this, this offer is only available to the first five (million) people who are smart (not so smart) enough to know a fantastic deal (scam) when they see one.”

There is a reason why corporations spend huge amounts of money on these kinds of advertisements.

And it’s the same reason scammers inundate us with emails offering to enrich us by tens of millions of dollars and, in return, all we need to do is send a measly few hundred dollars to facilitate transfer of the funds.

They work.

It's About Immediate Gratification

These diets all convince people to join for the same reason. We want – no, we demand – immediate gratification. When we want something, we want it NOW!!

And that is a habit which, for so many, stands in the way of ever reaching, and holding onto, the results they desire. 

Remember, we do what we do for one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. And while we have hundreds of words to describe these activities, they all point to the same thing, gaining pleasure or avoiding pain.

But it’s more than that. There’s another component that factors in to whether we will or whether we won’t. 

It’s called time and it works like this: we either trade what we want (the long-term benefits of achieving our goals) for what we want right now (don’t feel like going to the gym) or we put aside (saying no to that chocolate cake) what we want right now for what we want at some point in the future (the body we crave, the health we desire).

And while somewhere deep down inside ourselves we know there is no nutritional breakthrough that will enable us to lose 10 pounds per week and that strangers do not generally go around handing out multimillion dollar gifts to people they don’t know, the habit of seeking instant gratification is, for some, so powerful that it overrides not only their common-sense but also their own experiences and so they gullibly order the nutritional miracle and reply to the scam emails.  

I've created a 5-Step Weight Loss Plan that is indeed free. However if you download it and take a look, you'll notice I do not make one comment about what a person should eat, or what a person should do for exercise. That's in part because I'm an expert in neither of those things.

More importantly, I know that making the changes you need to make to lose weight have little to do with food and exercise and much to do with a change of mindset.

The Marshmallow Test

Don’t believe me, here’s some research that proves my point.

In the 1960’s. Walter Mischel, a Stanford professor, conducted an experiment with pre-school children. He invited them one by one into a room with a chair and a table. Sitting ever so innocently on the table was a single marshmallow. The children were told the researcher was going to leave the room for 15 minutes, and if, when he returned they had not eaten the marshmallow, they would be given another one. That’s it that’s all they had to do.

On the other hand, if they choose to eat the marshmallow, they would not receive an additional marshmallow. Yikes, what’s a child to do?

I will let you go online and see The Marshmallow Test for yourself, but suffice to say researchers followed those children for 40 years, and you may have guessed it, the ones who did not eat the single marshmallow were more successful in many areas in their lives.

In my work, I can without a doubt tell you that my clients who practice what is learned in The Marshmallow Test, the Habit of Delaying Gratification as an everyday part of their decision-making and action strategies invariably have much happier stories to tell than those who don’t. 

Life is mandatory, success is optional: choose wisely.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

woman cheering


p.s.

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