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How To Cheat The Marshmallow Test

By Rebecca Kesner | |

Cheat the marshmallow test, ace your self control, and put a stop to self sabotage. 

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study in the 60s/70s on delayed gratification. 

A group of nursery children were offered the choice between one small but immediate reward - such as a marshmallow. Or, if they were prepared to wait a little bit longer - typically 15 minutes, they could have double the reward. A mouth watering 2 marshmallows.

Follow-up studies into adulthood found that children who were able to delay gratification and wait for the larger reward, seemed to have better life outcomes. Higher SAT scores, higher incomes and better emotional and social functioning.

The moral of this story, as it always seems to be is: 

Anything worth having, is worth waiting for. Right?

Ok - it’s not that groundbreaking. We’ve been here before, think, “Patience is a virtue”, “All good things come to those who wait” - it’s traditional wisdom passed down through generations. The timeless tale that self restraint, abstinence and strength of mind is all character building stuff and ultimately, it will lead to triumph.
However, PLOT TWIST - there’s been a slight debate about the accuracy and intent of these results.

Subsequent research found that the ability to delay gratification may be influenced by a whole range of factors such as the child's environment, upbringing and socioeconomic status, rather than just an inherent trait of self-control. Nature vs nurture shocker.

Which makes us feel a whole lot better about some of our life choices. It’s not us, it’s them.

But forget marshmallows - what about the bigger picture? The long term goals, the important ones - what about the career we’re working towards, the relationships we’re building, the health goals we have?

We’re switched-on people, we know what we should be doing - so why is it hard to stick to the plan? Why do short term indulgences still have the power to throw us off the path of those bigger, seriously important long term goals?

The conflict between our rational mind which knows what’s good for us, and our impulsive nature.

Instant gratification. It’s a primal instinct. 

Evolution has us hard wired to seek immediate rewards. Survival of the smartest meant our ancestors had to rely on their wits. Food, shelter, danger - there wasn’t time to contemplate whether this was going to support the long term objective - it was food - and we were hungry - so we ate it!

And ok - we’re no longer living off our wits and dodging bears in the wilderness - but that fight or flight response is still in us. The only difference is today it's triggered by other stresses such as work, family and finances. Now we have an emotional need to soothe ourselves too. Stress and anxiety can lead us to seek temporary comfort from negative emotions.

Beware, comfort is a shapeshifter. 

Comfort shows itself in different forms. Perhaps as a few glasses of wine after a “hard day”, a carb-heavy cheat day when you’ve been “good all week” or feeling like those expensive and totally unnecessary trainers in your wish-list are exactly what’s needed to “cheer you up”.

It’s a tightrope. It feels like we’re actually programmed NOT to stick to the plan. Feels like inherently, we’re not good at delaying gratification. So with all this to contend with, how is it even possible to win the marshmallow test? How can we master self control, get to the end goal and live happily ever after?

The answer lies in how healthy your brain is.

The first trip wire we come across is the one in our own heads. The voice that justifies why it’s ok to deviate from the plan. “You’ve been good all week“ it says. “Everything in moderation” it reasons. It’s the gateway thought that encourages you to cheat yourself out of that long term goal.

Mood, motivation and focus are crucial. Your brain needs a hype man.

Having good brain health is like having the best hype man in the world. Whooping up your cognitive functions, they're there to support and amplify the good energy and enthusiasm that you had when you made those goals. They’re a positive presence and when those random negative hecklers start creeping in the back row - they’re taking them down. 

There’s a number of ways to warm-up this hype man and balance your brain health:

Get moving: Regular physical exercise improves blood flow and memory. It stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood and thinking. 

Eat smart: Diets rich in omega-3, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and nuts have all been linked to better brain health. 

Sleep well: Sleep energizes you. Quality sleep puts us in a better mood, gives us more energy and improves our immune system.

Continue to learn: Learn something new, develop a skill, build up your brain. New activities help your brain form new connections and strengthen old ones.

Stay connected: Social interactions can have a positive impact on your brain. They provide cognitive stimulation, emotional support, and can help reduce stress and promote mental well-being.

Manage stress levels: Chronic stress is not good for your brain, high levels of cortisol can lead to physical manifestations. Finding effective ways to manage stress through exercise, breathing techniques or talking it through with others can help promote overall brain health.

Gaining control of your brain health = staying in control of your goals. 

All of these aspects are integral to keeping your brain healthy, focussed and motivated. If you’re looking to optimize your healthy routine, consider introducing a natural nootropic stack such as Mind Lab Pro®. Supplementing with nootropics is a great way to maximize your brain health.

100% natural brain power, Mind Lab Pro® is a brain supplement made up of 11 research-backed nootropic ingredients. It targets multiple brain functions and pathways: brain energy, brain chemicals, brain circulation, brain regeneration, brain protection and brain waves.

Mind Lab Pro® has been designed as a Universal Nootropic™ - the world’s first, cleanest and scientifically proven. Superior quality ingredients, 100% vegan, and no nasty additives. 

It really doesn’t matter whether we have an inherent pull to "do the right thing". It’s all too easy to put it down to genetics, peer pressure or weaker willpower. The key to staying on the right path, to definitely passing go, to absolutely collecting $200 is to maintain a healthy brain.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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