Researchers have determined another measurement for success based on a self control test. Scientists placed four-year-olds in a room by themselves with a marshmallow and a surveillance camera. Children who did not eat the marshmallow were promised a second marshmallow reward after fifteen minutes. Two-thirds of the children ate it, some immediately, some after fourteen and a half minutes. Then the real experiment began.
Later, these children were studied as adults. Overwhelmingly, the children who did not eat the first marshmallow had higher intelligence scores and were significantly more successful in their adult lives in terms of career, finances and relationships. The conclusion? The ability to deny self-gratification makes for a successful individual and a successful future.
This makes me wonder several things:
1. Why am I craving marshmallows?
2. What, at age four, would I have done? (I suspect I may have sucked out the marshmallow’s core then convinced myself that the scientist wouldn’t be able to detect my obvious ruse despite the mangled marshmallow and tell-tale white powder around my mouth.)
3. Can someone’s entire future really be determined by one marshmallow?
4. Why do people volunteer their four-year-olds for science experiments?
5. Just how many scientists out there are doing experiments on their own children?
6. Will I be more successful in life from now on if I abstain from marshmallows?
7. What if they had used chocolate chips?
8. What if there had been a campfire?
9. How many things do I deny myself for at least fifteen minutes?
10. Why am I so weak?
I don’t mean to be flippant. Scientists are smart and I like them. I do indeed see the importance of limits and self-control. But here’s something else to consider: no disrespect to four-year-olds but even if they don’t eat the marshmallows, most of them do eat their boogers. I think success is a by-product of doing what you do with love, enhanced by choices and challenges and it can’t be measured one way. How do you measure it?