Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don't eat the Marshmallow




There was a famous experiment done by Stanford University child psychologists in the 1970s where four-year olds are placed in a room with a single marshmallow. They are told that if they can last fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow they will earn a second one.

Most of the kids fail, many in under four minutes, but 1/3 of them succeed. This ability to delay instant gratification is correlated with generally greater success. At first glance it makes sense, we all know the story of the grasshopper and the cricket.  But why were some kids able to do this task while others couldn’t? 

In thinking about this experiment, we sometimes focus on how many of the kids struggle under the temptation of the marshmallow before them.

A slightly different, and in my opinion, a key view, is that the successful kids weren’t suffering without the present marshmallow, they were suffering for the future marshmallow. Bottom line: their focus is different.

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

Our military training, our missions, routinely call for difficult actions now for a better future.

There are a variety of skills available to ‘not eat the marshmallow’, many of which are components of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program, such as PIIP, Energy Management, Detect Icebergs, and more.

Ask your unit Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) on how to incorporate this into your training plan.


Staff Sgt. Eddie Black,
Resilience Program Coordinator,
Oregon National Guard

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