“Stanford University psychology researcher Michael Mischel demonstrated how important self-discipline (the ability to delay immediate gratification in exchange for long term goal achievement) is to lifelong success? In a longitudinal study which began in the 1960s, he offered hungry 4-year-olds a marshmallow, but told them that if they could wait for the experimenter to return after running an errand, they could have two marshmallows.
Those who could wait the fifteen or twenty minutes for the experimenter to return would be demonstrating the ability to delay gratification and control impulse.
About one-third of the children grabbed the single marshmallow right away while some waited a little longer, and about one-third were able to wait 15 or 20 minutes for the researcher to return.
Years later when the children graduated from high school, the differences between the two groups were dramatic: the resisters were more positive, self-motivating, persistent in the face of difficulties, and able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. They had the habits of successful people which resulted in more successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfilling lives than most of the population.   
Those having grabbed the marshmallow were more troubled, stubborn and indecisive, mistrustful, less self-confident, and still could not put off gratification. They had trouble subordinating immediate impulses to achieve long-range goals. When it was time to study for the big test, they tended to get distracted into doing activities that brought instant gratification. This impulse followed them throughout their lives and resulted in unsuccessful marriages, low job satisfaction and income, bad health, and frustrating lives.”


As a fellow psychologist, I felt this entry deserved a little bit more on the history of the study. 
Tonight as Joel and I had dinner, I was talking about how I can’t wait to be in a working situation where I can earn a lot of money.  Not that money is the most important thing on earth, but let us face it:  money allows me to do the things that are important to me on a larger level.  Traveling, exploring new hobbies, going on yoga retreats, having aesthetic surroundings, having healthy dogs, the list goes on.  It’s not that money buys happiness, but money buys things that accentuate my happiness.  There’s a fine line and I’m probably not explaining it very well.
I confessed feeling as if I’ve gone a very long time with a strong focus on my academic career, with very little focus on my personal life or my personal well-being.  I’m a well-rounded, well-traveled person, but when I’m engaged in school I have very little outside time to focus on me as a person in the sense of engaging in the hobbies I want to do, the activities I seek, etc.  As I move closer and closer towards the completion of my degree, I can’t help but feeling a sense of relief, like, “I’ve made it.”  As Joel pointed out, I’ve gone without the marshmallows for so long.  And it’s so very true.  I've been in higher education (undergrad-masters-phd) for 7.5 years.  I haven't taken a summer off since I started.  That's about 22 semesters.  Straight.  No break.  I don't even want to think about how many classes that is.  I’ve put my academic career ahead of my own personal life for so long that I’m beginning to taste the freedom associated with just working and doing what I love, and it’s addictive.  I’m very aware of the fact that my specific sub-section of my field that I’m in, and earning an advanced degree in, is very well compensated.  Very well.  There’s work involved, sure, but I feel like for the first time that I will be able to be well-paid enough and selective enough that I’ll only need to work on projects that I want to work on.  The type of work I’m going into does not need to have bad days.  I’m being a little positively dramatic, but my basic point is:  I have chosen a career, not a job, and it is a career that I love to live and breathe.  My tolerance for hard work and sacrifice will pay off in spades, because the degree speaks to something larger than myself.  It says, this person hasn’t taken the marshmallows

And, this person needs to be paid well.

 


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