Regarding my last article on Stanford and Marshmallows, there was a fairly unscientific follow-up study done of the 4 to 6 year old children that were tempted with the promise of marshmallows. Those that demonstrated the ability as a child to defer gratification, later in life were described as “adolescents who were significantly more competent,” and had higher SAT scores.
I doubt this surprises anyone. After all, the ability to delay gratification is indicative of discipline. Short term thinking is the hallmark of a child. Longterm thinking is a sign of maturity and discipline.
Unfortunately, self-discipline is a rare commodity these days. There are several culprits you could blame for Americans being lazy and undisciplined. Certainly our wealth makes us much lazier than the old days when me and my boys would have to trap, shoot, and kill our own food. In this world of instant coffee, spray-on tans, microwave dinners and movies on demand, we have been conditioned to believe that we can have anything that we want right now.
But I think the main factor, not just in making Americans lazy, but also threatening our very freedom is the villain known as credit.
In the old days, when you wanted a new luxury item like a brand new automobile, you would set aside some money on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Then when you had saved up enough money for that automobile, you would buy it and drive it home.
Enter the world of credit. There was a time when credit was a personal arrangement between a merchant and the customer. Banks commercialized credit making it available to virtually everyone. Suddenly people could play now and pay later. Sure, I can’t afford the car, but I can afford the payment, therefore I can have it now (and instantly lose $10,000 in future earnings).
The reason so many people are struggling with debt and finances is because they are paying today for stuff that they bought months and years ago. We’ve been scarfing down marshmallows without paying the cost (that is a metaphor, although if it were actually the case it would explain why many Americans are fat in addition to lazy).
If you are struggling with finances, here is a helpful video that should help you.