With self-discipline, all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream.”~ Theodore Roosevelt
Case Study #1: The Marshmallow Test
His test was conducted in 1960s by psychologist and researcher Walter Mischel, who did a study on school kids to test their self-control. Here is how the test was conducted:
A group of preschoolers were made to sit in the room. The researcher offered each of them a marshmallow. But before they could gulp that sweet candy, the researchers gave the kids two simple choices:
1.The child can eat one marshmallow immediately.
2.Or he can wait for the researcher to come back after twenty minutes and get two marshmallows instead of one.
It seems like a rational choice to wait just twenty minutes and then get two marshmallows instead of one. Simple mathematics, isn’t it?
After giving this choice, the researcher went out of this room, leaving children with their marshmallows, but he started watching the kids from a one-way glass window to see how the children would react in this situation.
As you would have already guessed by now, children are children. Some of them couldn’t wait and instantly swallowed their marshmallow and were very happy. But there were few others, who behaved more rationally. These children calculated: two marshmallows merely by a wait of twenty minutes. They resorted to focusing on other things to divert their attention from the one marshmallow lying in front of them in order to resist their temptations.
But this research did not end here.
Researchers continued to follow these preschoolers not for years, but for decades. In a 2011 study, they tracked the 59 subjects, now in their forties, who participated in the marshmallow test as children.
The researchers tested the subjects’ strength of willpower with a laboratory task known to demonstrate self-control in adults. It was noted that the children who were able to resist their temptations and had delayed the need of instant gratification were able to score higher SAT scores, get better grades, were more focused, and were way more successful as compared to those who failed in the marshmallow test.
You can see how inculcating self-discipline from an early age helps to create a better future in adults in almost all areas of their lives.
Case Study #2: Get One Dollar Now or Two Dollars Next Week
This another study was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by psychologists Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligmen on a few eighth grade students. During the test, the students were given the option of receiving one dollar immediately or waiting a week to get two dollars the next week.
This was again a test of how the students can delay their instant gratification and control their temptation for a larger reward in future. The researchers noted that the students who demonstrated more self-discipline had performed much better in their studies, got good grades, got admission to highly ranked universities, as compared to their counterparts who had lesser self-control.
In this study, the researchers also concluded that self-control was more important than the IQ of the students in getting into good schools or getting better jobs.
Case Study #3: A New Zealand Study
This third study conducted in Dunedin, New Zealand that also demonstrated that the benefits of willpower extended well beyond the college years. In this study, researchers took a control group of 1,000 people for a long-term health study, who were tracked from birth until thirty-two years old.
The researchers noted that by ten years old, many children had mastered self-control, but others were failing to achieve this skill. Then, researchers followed them over a period of thirty years and traced the consequences of their childhood levels of self-control on their health, wealth, and possible criminal offenses.
The research concluded that individuals who had a higher self-control during childhood, as reported by their teachers, parents, and the children themselves, became adults who had much better physical and mental health. They were better off financially. They also concluded, based on court convictions and police records from New Zealand and Australia, that children with poor self-control were more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence.
All of these studies indicate that resisting short-term cravings or temptations for a better future by exercising willpower proved to be highly advantageous in the lives of people and especially in kids.
Do you want to fully exploit the power of self-discipline, but don’t know how to get started?
There are many ways to teach self discipline to yourself and to your kids. One of the easiest ways is to have a constant reminder to keep you in check so that the person who wears it will resist veering from the right path to success.