For Long Term Success: Delay gratification!


A student, asked, “How to improve self control”. This post analyzes ways to improve self control, willpower & patience. In brief it tells for long term success: delay gratification!


Marshmallow Experiment

The seminal research on delayed gratification – the now-famous “marshmallow experiment” – was conducted by Walter Mischel in the 1960s and 1970s at Stanford University. Mischel and his colleagues were interested in strategies that preschool children used to resist temptation. They presented four-year-olds with a marshmallow and told the children that they had two options: (1) ring a bell at any point to summon the experimenter and eat the marshmallow, or (2) wait until the experimenter returned about 15 minutes later), and earn two marshmallows. The message was: “small reward now, bigger reward later.” Some children broke down and ate the marshmallow, whereas others were able to delay gratification and earn the coveted two marshmallows. In follow-up experiments, Mischel found that:

The children, who waited longer, when re-evaluated as teenagers and adults, demonstrated a striking array of advantages over their peers. As teenagers, they had higher SAT scores, social competence, self-assuredness and self-worth, and were rated by their parents as more mature, better able to cope with stress, more likely to plan ahead, and more likely to use reason. They were less likely to have conduct disorders or high levels of impulsivity, aggressiveness and hyperactivity. As adults, the high delayers were less likely to have drug problems or other addictive behaviors, get divorced, or be overweight. Each minute that a preschooler was able to delay gratification translated to a .2% reduction in Body Mass Index 30 years later.

For Long term Success: Delay gratification! How can we Learn?

Good news is that we can all improve our will power & self control by small daily acts, which will have revolutionary impact on our lives:


  • Eat the tastiest food last in your meal.
  • Read editorial before reading sports news.
  • Run a little longer before stopping than yesterday.
  • When someone misbehaves, or is apparently irritating, don’t react, but think & respond proactively, by remaining calm & using reason.
  • Don’t buy non essential items on EMI, (other than house or car) & wait to save enough funds to buy the item.
  • Study the toughest subjects/topics first.
  • Don’t procrastinate in taking difficult decisions in life.

The essence is to “SUBORDINATE IMPULSES TO VALUES” for long term success. Believe me, increased self control will provide you happiness! If you don’t believe-try it!

Article Contributed by

1472101_1572811562985052_2027007300511621554_nColonel Mani Mohan Nehru
Personality Developer
Served Indian Army for 28+ years
Personal Website :
E-mail: /

About The Author: Colonel MM Nehru, is an ex-army officer and is  currently settled in Merrut (India). He is a Personality Development Consultant, during his service he was a Selector for Defence Services at 17 SSB, Bangalore. He was also responsible for the Counter Insurgency Operations training of the entire troops deployed in Assam (approximately: 50,000 troops). He was an Instructor at the prestigious NDA(National Defense Academy) from 1988-91. He has Trained Services/ national/international level boxers, athletes. He has personally played Tennis at national level & still competes in veterans’ events.

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