Patience Is A Superpower (Part 1)
Your Marshmallow Experiment
In my early childhood, I was somewhat impatient. Like most kids, I wanted things to happen NOW.
“Later” or “one day” seemed terribly far away.
This desire for immediate gratification also seems to be a common adult trait in modern society.
We seem to be acquiring faster and faster appetites these days.
Get Rich Quick! Heal Overnight! Instant everything!
The internet and smart phones offer information, entertainment and transactions on demand…
Food production is sped up with fertilizers and genetic engineering…
Manufacturers hastily create products to feed the hunger that society and advertisers conjure up…
Credit cards and infinite loans allow us to buy before we’ve generated the means…
Most people don’t want to wait for anything anymore.
Yet certain things in life do require time.
Not everything is possible in the fast lane…
Patience is still a virtue and it might even be one of your superhero powers.
In Wikipedia, patience is defined as a “state of endurance” (often under duress).
In various sciences, patience is sometimes studied by examining our capacity for delayed gratification.
Walter Mischel, a psychologist at Stanford University, did the infamous Marshmallow Experiments in the 1970′s where children were given two options: eat the marshmallow right away or wait 15 minutes to receive two marshmallows!
These studies found a correlation between a child’s ability to wait and their later successes in life. Those who could wait longer before being rewarded seemed to be happier and more competent as adults.
Here are some kids waiting for their marshmallow in a re-creation of the experiment:
Interestingly in 2012, the University of Rochester did another version of the experiment with one group of kids experiencing a ‘broken promise’ before the marshmallow test and another group enjoying a ‘fulfilled promise’ before the test.
This study showed that having a reliable promise of reward was an important determinant of the child’s choice to delay gratification. (rather than self-control being the key factor)
My first big experiment around Patience came when I was 14.
I decided to start saving money so that I could eventually live on my own and attend university in Montreal without having to work while in school. It was a 5-year plan.
The promise I made to myself was the gift of freedom. With great focus and fierce determination, I taught piano and worked several part-time jobs in order to acquire the needed finances.
My discipline was strong because I knew this would pay off later. I fully trusted in the promise and the reward… even if I had to ply my time quietly.
I realized that the key was to invest yourself so fully in a promise that your mind trusts that reward is an inevitable conclusion.
So the secret to Patience is Commitment!
With commitment, patience becomes a superpower that brings you focus, persistence and faith.
Instead of continually looking for the reward to show up, you devote yourself completely to the process.
Instead of giving up during hard times, you ride out the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride.
For the dreams that really matter to you, your tenacity is a key to success.
For the enjoyment of the journey, your patience helps you feel at peace with your progress no matter how slow it might appear to be.
And to those who are impatient, you just might appear… a little superhuman.
On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your current level of patience and ability to delay gratification for the following things?
10 being patient like the ancient Ent trees in Lord of the Rings…
1 being impatient like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld…
1. Patience in building your Career or Finances?
2. Patience in improving your Health?
3. Patience in developing your Talents or skills?
4. Patience in cultivating a Romantic Relationship?
5. Patience in healing from Heartache?
6. Patience in evolving your Challenging Behaviours or Habits?
7. Patience in understanding Addictions or Repetitive Patterns?
8. Patience in dealing with other people’s Challenging Behaviours?
If you see that you’re lacking in patience in a certain area, step up your commitment level!
This article is part 1 of the series.
Read Part 2: The Magical Properties of Slow
Read Part 3: Slowly Being and Slowly Doing
Read Part 4: The Secret Twins of Success