Thinking Long Term

The marshmellow test is a famous experiment on delayed gratification:

In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned. The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.[5]

All of life is a marshmellow test.

Yet, our lizard brains aren’t programmed to think long term. They’re programmed to think short term as our ancestors had no need to think on longer time horizons. Simply put, we’re running on outdated software.

A lot of our impulses are remnants of this.

Sugary foods —–> Healthy Foods
Laziness —–> Exercise
Sex —–> Meaningful intimate relationships
Prestige —–> Meaningful Career

March 24, 2021

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