Let me introduce you to a certain concept

It’s been a while – a slightly longer one – since my previous blog post, but in that time I haven’t been idle. If you feel like it, check out my new YouTube channel, as I’ve been doing some work there. You can find it here: https://youtube.com/user/oskarpilch.

Getting to the point, though; I have a concept for you that I wish I had known myself earlier, and which knowledge now often comes in handy in my life.

Deferred gratification

You want to be healthy, happy, have a satisfying and challenging job and enough money, right? Or even not have a job at all, just doing whatever you happen to find interesting on any given day and can, because you have enough money.

Or maybe you would like to start a family and make your loved ones feel loved, happy and appreciated? Would you like to have lots of friends and lots of people who appreciate you for what you are?

Probably this sounds interesting to you, but have you thought about what is an important quality or something that is able to help you get to what you set as a personal goal?

Let me describe an experiment conducted in 1960 by Stanford professor Walter Michel. It consisted of 4-5 year old children being brought into a room, seated in a chair, and a marshmallow placed on a table in front of them.

Then the investigators would make the following proposition to the child: the investigator was to leave the room in a moment, and if the child did not eat the marshmallow in his absence, he would receive a second marshmallow. However, if the child ate the marshmallow before the investigator returned, he would not receive the second marshmallow.

A choice was put to the children: one tasty thing now or two tasty things later. The investigator left the room for about 15 minutes, and as he left the room, different children behaved in different ways. Some immediately ate the marshmallow without even hesitating, while others took a moment as if fighting with each other, but nevertheless ate the marshmallow as well. On the other hand, there were also those who held out until the end and then got a second marshmallow.

The study gained popularity, but only caught the attention of a wider audience in subsequent years, when the researchers conducted additional studies on the same children, checking how each of them was doing in life.

The lives of these individuals were examined from all possible angles to learn as much as possible about them. After some 40 years of various studies, it turned out that the children who patiently waited for the second marshmallow were broadly successful in each of the matters studied. In short, the ability or trait of using „deferred gratification” predetermines how we will do in life.

Let’s see if I can find some examples from everyday life:

  • Health; giving up fast food in favor of preparing food yourself at home.
  • Work; focusing on long-term goals rather than obstacles that come up every day and can sometimes seem huge.
  • Family; giving up a vacation to Greece on credit and choosing cheaper vacations that I can actually afford.

You may consider my examples trivial. But it’s these kinds of things – spread over many aspects of life and stretched out over weeks, months and years – that ultimately determine what kind of life we have. They decide whether in a few years we’ll be eating BigMac for lunch, cursing under our breath because of an email we read a moment ago and having those 4 credits hanging over us in the back of our minds. Or are we going to live a simple life, free from debt and the glare of the limelight, but full of happiness, joy and love from the people we value most.

I hope you can see the exaggeration here, but I did that on purpose. I wish you to examine yourself and your decisions in terms of whether you make them looking mainly at the here and now, or whether you nevertheless have the ability to value the future more than average people. If it’s not the best, nothing is lost. I myself have a huge field of work in many areas, and that’s why I’m writing about it.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

Oskar Pilch