The Marshmallow Test

How To Master Self-Control. The Engine of Success.

This is the definitive hand guide to slashing through your own weaknesses!


If you want to:

  • Stop giving in to those doughnuts
  • Learn how to control yourself in desperate situations
  • Or simply, find out the tactics behind becoming a cold, hard spartan.

Then, this is the place to be.

Have you ever asked yourself how you can take back control of those 'naughty habits?'

If you have, then keep reading on!

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If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.
Napoleon Hill , Think & Grow Rich

 

The Marshmallow Test is quite possibly the definitive guide to mastering self-control.

Walter Mischel, the author, wrote his book, after decades of extensive research.

If like me, you prefer having the fat trimmed, this is the guide for you.

I’ll be peeling back the layers and hitting the core concepts behind the science of self-control.

Why waste 6+ hours reading a book, when below, you can find out the same info in under 5-minutes?

What is the marshmallow test?

Image result for marshmallow test

In the marshmallow test, a young child is offered a choice between 1 marshmallow they can eat right away.

Or 2 marshmallows, if they wait for 15 minutes.

During this time the tester leaves the child alone in the room and returns with a second marshmallow.

Which the child may eat so long as the first marshmallow is still intact 🙂

Follow-up studies, conducted in later years, found that children who waited for the second marshmallow tended to have better SAT scores, higher educational
accomplishments, and healthier bodies (BMI).

 

 

Self Control

Self Control by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator

 

 

So, what’s the secret? How do I master self-control?

Continue with caution, these following methods could change your life.

 

 

What to think about when you’re faced with ‘the temptation’

 

The most-important, most-crucial moment in building self-control, is the moment when you must make a decision or choice.

The trick here is to avoid the temptation altogether through self-distraction.

Some of the children in the tests managed to restrain from eating the marshmallow by thinking of it abstractly.

For example, thinking of the marshmallow as a puffy, white cloud.

You can also try thinking of something completely unrelated. For example, many children would sing a nursery rhyme.

However! It was also found that it’s important not to think about nothing.

Otherwise, you’ll end up thinking of the marshmallow again as ‘squishy, chewy, and yummy’ <img draggable=

 

Your environment will affect your self-control

 

Your environment will affect how well you can control your impulses.

The ‘environment’ can include your physical environment, stress levels, and friends.

For example, an active smoker looking to quit will have a harder time quitting if all their friends are also smokers. As a large part of their social-life may be around smoking.

In short: If you want to stop eating junk food, chuck it out of the house.

 

Putting yourself in the right mindset

 

Believe in you- Your belief system can affect your self-control

“Believe that you can whip the enemy, and you have won half the battle”

-General J.E.B. Stuart

Not only the belief you hold in your own abilities will affect your self-control.

But, also the expectations you have of yourself.

 

Similar to the second principle in, Napoleon Hill’s book, Think & Grow Rich.

If you want your ambitions to come true, it is necessary to have faith that your ambitions will come true.

Otherwise, you’ll never make any attempts to control yourself.

As Wayne Gretzky once put it: You miss 100% of the shots you don’ take. **TK** Edit with Thrive Shortcodes

 

 

Swapping ‘hot and cold focus’

Dr Mischel defines two types of thinking in his book:

  • ‘Hot focus’ where you think of the marshmallow as chewy, delicious, and yummy.
  • And ‘cool focus’, where you could think of the marshmallow as a puffy white cloud for example.

 

In general, we tend to think of present situations in ‘hot focus’ and future situations in ‘cool focus.’

So, we’re led to making poor decisions in the present moment.

And expect ourselves to make rational decisions in the future.

Which we don’t, when we arrive there.

 

The trick is to try and swap these focuses around:

To think cool-headed and rational in the current moment:

“No, I can’t eat that marshmallow now. Else I’ll lose that second marshmallow.”

 

And secondly, to think of the future with a hot-focus:

“My second marshmallow will taste sooo good. And it’ll be chewy, delicious, and yummy.”

 

 

Forming negative correlations to your bad habit

One way to change from a hot focus to a cool focus is to create a negative correlation with your temptation.

For example, a smoker wishing to quit could recall the smell of old, stale cigarettes.

Over time this can form a negative correlation with the temptation for cigarettes.

Which will eventually end temptations.

It’s preferable to form negative correlations with immediate consequences, rather than long-term consequences. As it’ll be more persuasive. 

 

Self-reflection & trigger searching

Image result for fly on the wall

A helpful trick described in the book, to find your ‘trigger’, is distanced self-reflection.

Here’s how it goes:

Pretend you’re a fly on the wall, and think of a situation
where you had to make a choice over a temptation.

Consider not only the actions you made, and what you were thinking at the time, but also your reactions, to seeing things, like a doughnut stand.

This identifies your triggers, what makes you go “Mmmm… Doughnuts….” <img draggable=

 

A simple trick that works like a charm

The ‘if-then’ method works perfectly with distanced self-reflection.

After identifying your triggers, you can tell yourself, in your mind ‘If I see a doughnut stand. I will walk in the opposite direction.’

This works so well because it is so unbelievably simple.

 

Will fatigue and exercise

When you’re mentally or physically strained, your ability to control your impulses will be weak.

High-stress environments are a form of mental strain and are a large cause of weak self-control.

It was found that people who exercised had better self-control.

This may be because people who exercise frequently are able to endure a greater amount of physical strain.

Which would also help to relieve mental strain.

In addition, it was also found that over-controlling parents had children with weaker self-control.

Most likely due to the extra stress that the parents caused upon the child.

 

 

 

P.S. If you’d like to see more of this kinda stuff, subscribe to my insider newsletter. And receive book summaries crafted to perfection. Specially designed to be read in under 5-minutes flat!

Follow-up studies, conducted in later years, found that children who waited for the second marshmallow tended to have better SAT scores, higher educational
accomplishments, and healthier bodies (BMI).

So, what’s the secret? How do I master self-control?

Continue with caution, these following methods could change your life.

What to think about when you’re faced with ‘the temptation’

The most-important, most-crucial moment in building self-control, is the moment when you must make a decision or choice.

The trick here is to avoid the temptation altogether through distraction.

Some of the children in the tests managed to restrain from eating the marshmallow by thinking of it abstractly.

For example, thinking of the marshmallow as a puffy, white cloud.

You can also try thinking of something completely unrelated. For example, many children would sing a nursery rhyme.

However! It was also found that it’s important not to think about nothing. Otherwise, you’ll end up thinking of the marshmallow again as ‘squishy, chewy, and yummy’ <img draggable=

 

Your environment will affect your self-control

Your environment will affect how well you can control your impulses.

The ‘environment’ can include your physical environment, stress levels, and friends.

For example, an active smoker looking to quit will have a harder time quitting if all their friends are also smokers. As a large part of their social-life may be around smoking.

In short: If you want to stop eating junk food, chuck it out of the house.

 

Putting yourself in the right mindset

Believe in you- Your belief system can affect your self-control

“Believe that you can whip the enemy, and you have won half the battle”

-General J.E.B. Stuart

Not only the belief you hold in your own abilities will affect your self-control.

But, also the expectations you have of yourself.

Similar to the second principle in, Napoleon Hill’s book, Think & Grow Rich.

If you want your ambitions to come true, it is necessary to have faith that your ambitions will come true.

Otherwise, you’ll never make any attempts to control yourself.

As Wayne Gretzky once put it, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Swapping ‘hot and cold focus’

Dr Mischel defines two types of thinking in his book:

  • ‘Hot focus’ where you think of the marshmallow as
    chewy, delicious, and yummy.
  • And ‘cool focus’, where you could think of the
    marshmallow as a puffy white cloud for example.

In general, we tend to think of the present situations in ‘hot focus’ and future situations in ‘cool focus.’

So, we’re led to making poor decisions in the present moment.

And expect ourselves to make rational decisions in the future.

Which we don’t, when we arrive there.

The trick is to try and swap those focuses around.

To think cool-headed and rational in the current moment:

“No, I can’t eat that marshmallow now. Else I’ll lose that second marshmallow.”

And secondly, to think of the future with a hot-focus:

“My second marshmallow will taste sooo good. And it’ll be chewy, delicious, and yummy.”

 

Forming negative correlations to your bad habit

One way to change from a hot focus to a cool focus is to create a negative correlation with your temptation.

For example, a smoker wishing to quit could recall the smell of old, stale cigarettes.

Over time this can form a negative correlation with the temptation for cigarettes.

Thus eventually ending temptations.

 

Self-reflection & trigger searching

A helpful trick described in the book, to find your ‘trigger’, is distanced self-reflection.

Here’s how it goes:

Pretend you’re a fly on the wall, and think of a situation
where you had to make a choice over a temptation.

Consider not only the actions you made, and what you were thinking at the time, but also your reactions, to seeing things, like a doughnut stand.

This identifies your triggers, what makes you go “Mmmm… Doughnuts….” <img draggable=

 

A simple trick that works like a charm

The ‘if-then’ method works perfectly with distanced self-reflection.

After identifying your triggers, you can tell yourself, in your mind ‘If I see a doughnut stand. I will walk in the opposite direction.’

This works so well because it is so unbelievably simple.

 

Will fatigue and exercise

When you’re mentally or physically strained, your ability to control your impulses will be weak.

High-stress environments are a form of mental strain and are a large cause of weak self-control.

It was found that people who exercised had better self-control.

This may be because people who exercise frequently are able to endure a greater amount of physical strain.

Which would also help to relieve mental strain.

In addition, it was also found that over-controlling parents had children with weaker self-control.

Most likely due to the extra stress that the parents caused upon the child.

 

 

P.S. If you’d like to see more of this kinda stuff,
subscribe to my insider newsletter. And receive book summaries crafted to perfection.
That are specially designed to be read in under 5-minutes flat!

Your Turn:

I hope you've liked this summary of The Marshmallow Test. 

So which tips are you going to use?

  • The 'if-then' method?
  • Or, maybe swapping your hot and cold focus?

Let me know down in the comments 🙂

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