What would Aristotle say about the “Marshmallow Effect and Happiness?

What would Aristotle say about marshmallow effect and happiness?

The essence of instant gratification or “marshmallow” effect is summarized here: Delaying Gratification More than 40 years ago, Walter Mischel, PhD, a psychologist now at Columbia University, explored self-control in children with a simple but effective test. His experiments using the “marshmallow test,” as it came to be known, laid the groundwork for the modern study of self-control. Mischel and his colleagues presented a preschooler with a plate of treats such as marshmallows. The child was then told that the researcher had to leave the room for a few minutes, but not before giving the child a simple choice: If the child waited until the researcher returned, she could have two marshmallows. If the child simply couldn’t wait, she could ring a bell and the researcher would come back immediately, but she would only be allowed one marshmallow. In children, as well as adults, willpower can be thought of as a basic ability to delay gratification.

Aristotle would be strongly critical of the culture of “instant gratification” or eating the marshmallow in the moment. Yet in our world of instant gratification, most people want to be rewarded now not later. For example, instant gratification is so predominate in our society today because of or selfishness and technology. Yet in Aristotle’s non-tech world his view was in order to achieve a life of balance and complete virtue, people needed to make the right choices, and that involved keeping an eye on the future, on the ultimate result want for lives as a whole. Aristotle believe that people  achieve happiness not by enjoying the pleasures of the moment. Unfortunately, this is something most people are not able to overcome in themselves because of lack of will power.

As Aristotle laments, “the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts… and instant pleasures (Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b 20). Later in the Ethics Aristotle draws attention to the weakness of the willpower. In many cases the overwhelming prospect of some great pleasure obscures one’s perception of what is truly good. Fortunately, this natural disposition is curable through self-awareness and training, which for Aristotle meant education and the constant aim to perfect character or what he called perfect virtue. As he puts it, “a clumsy archer may indeed get better with practice, so long as he keeps aiming for the target.”

Note also that it is not enough to think about doing the right thing, or even intend to do the right thing: we have to actually do it. Thus, it is one thing to think of giving up alcohol or smoking, or create a beautiful piece of art or heart felt poem and another thing to put together a plan to create the sustained energy, effort and time to do it. When we impose a form and structure upon the idea of happiness and actually produce a compelling change in our daily life, we are challenging our rational and intellectual abilities and emotions that if accomplished bring a sense of delayed happiness, pride and fulfillment.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Examine your life over the next 24 hours and identify one instant gratification” habit  you would like to change. Then create a SMART STEP Action Plan for change it in the next 30 days.

Having Problems with Goal Setting ? Try using Mental Contrasting Technique.

Daily Quote and Challenge:

” Mental contrasting when used by those with high expectations of success leads to increased goal commitment and energization.” Gabriele Oettingen,

In using mental contrasting or visualization technique to reach a personal change goal it is important to identify and picture how you will FEEL once you have attained your goal. To execute mental contrasting answer these two critical questions:

  1. What does success look like ?

 

2. How will you know when you have reached your goal?

 

Vision of New 21st Century Leadership

Leadership and Growth Mindset

With increased self-awareness through dialogue and feedback from others comes more confidence in your ability to tackle challenges and be a collaborative leader. These practices are hallmarks of the work I do with clients, not only in our more formally organized leadership development programs, but also in my modules on self-coaching and growth mindset characteristics both of which provide people with extensive feedback on self-awareness and how others see them.

Out these insights I have developed a vision for what 21st century leadership looks like. In the 21st Century a leader’s ability to inspire others to “follow you over the hill” in the command and control style of leadership is of less importance than your ability “to align people around a sense of purpose and values…and then model and empower other people to step up and lead no matter what organizational position or level they are in. This sense of autonomy and self-direction are critical elements in this new style of leadership.

If you’re inspiring followers, self-awareness is less important than power and the natural charisma we’ve traditionally associated with strong leadership. Yet  if you’re aligning and empowering other leaders, your success will depend on your ability to connect with people not as “followers” but as independent decision-makers and to motivate and influence them by speaking to their needs and interests.  This requires a keen degree of self-awareness and the ability to see clearly through the eyes of others.

Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge: Coping with Life Difficulties and Losses

A Self-Coaching “Smart-Step” approach to Coping with anxiety and difficult times

Daily Quote: ” When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.–Viktor Frankl 

Through out life we will encounter good and bad times. With the rapid pace of living  we all experience change as a way of life. Some of us learn to roll with the punches and find ways to get through our daily ups and downs. Others get “stuck” and have a difficult time functioning at an acceptable level. And still others find themselves anxious or increasingly depressed over a problem, concern, or worry for a long time. So we all react differently to change and try to find individual ways to cope. In my experience with clients, I have found some ways that are more effective than others to cope and push try to relief. Below I will provide two Self-Coaching tools that provide a practical framework and a mental set for dealing with these personal obstacles to live a life of constructive action. I suggest you write them down in your personal journal or on a 3x 5 index card so that when you find yourself on the edge or overwhelmed with worry and  insecure thinking, you read these tips to get you through the difficult situations you find yourself in. If necessary, read them over and over again, mantra like.

1.) I will let life be what it is. I won’t “make stuff up” too upset my balance and positive outlook. Sure there are obstacles and inconveniences but no awfulness and shoulds’ in life. Try using positive self-talk like the following: This too shall pass…it could have been much worst…this is inconvenient and unexpected so consciously  STOP. Take a deep BREATH. SMILE and Move ON. 
Sometimes, when the phone rings and the voice or message at the other end knocks you for a loop, you may feel shock, out of control or overwhelmed with what life has just delivered you. And yet you need to keep going on because sometimes there are no solutions or answers to life’s difficulties. Rather than reading these events as “awful” and “unsolvable”, a more constructive approach to terrible news is to notice and accept how you are feeling, if sad, be sad; if you start to cry just cry; if angry; be angry and then redirect your attention to something more useful. For example, find a tissue to wipe your tears, if you are standing sit-down, go for a long slow walk etc. Redirection physically can be a powerful constructive act.  Just remember this event as just a moment in life–not good or bad, just life.  Mentally reject the inner voice that tells you this is awful and you can’ go on. Don’t fight the fear or focus on it;  just notice it and accept it. Acknowledge these events are real, unwanted and  inconvenient obstacles that just need to be handled the best way you know how. With heighten emotions and unclear thinking about loss and fear driven thinking your insecurity and confusion will rise and you may find yourself slowed downed–but this is event is not the end of life or awful! What feels to be hopeless and overwhelming is only an emotional flooding created by this unexpected circumstance. Keep in mind your tool to STOP. Breath. Smile. Keep Moving and trust yourself to handle this situation.

2. Not every problem has a solution, and sometimes you have to just keep going and accept that maybe or maybe not an answer or understanding will appear. 
In time, some problems can be solved or understood. On the other hand, some problems will never be solved and you need to learn to live with this uncertainty and ambiguity of not knowing. Unfortunately, this is not easy to do, but begins with clear and positive thinking (3-1 rule of positivity) not with doubts, fears and negative thoughts. It is your irrational demand for answers and certainty in dealing with life’s problems and ambiguities that generate irrational thoughts, fretting behavior and other unhealthy symptoms such as nervousness, losing control, anxiety and feeling sick.

As you practice these new mental sets,  it helps to remind yourself of the countless problems and worries that have come and gone in your life. How many problems have you solved? One thousand? Ten thousand? or Hundred thousand? Many times you have faced problems and figured-out, how to survive these difficulties  by re-framing, re-strategizing, or over just letting time take its course. Right? Trust yourself and be more gentle and self compassionate because life difficulties eventually become part of your biography and you move on. Remember you have more fuel in the tank than you think you do.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Using Perseverance to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Thinking

Daily Quote: “Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it”.  Ella Wheeler Wilcox

                                                                                                       Another one by Michael Jordan

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give-up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it”.

Reflection: Perseverance is not an innate skill you are born with, it is learned and nurtured through life experiences. You can learn to challenge yourself by accepting the notion that sometimes you will make bad choices, take the wrong road or fail at a task or goal you are trying to achieve. The lesson to learn is that you never have to accept these things as enevitable. You have tomorrow to try a new way or learn a skill or task anew.  This called perseverance or resilience. I think it is in the willingness to keep trying that you learn to grow and develop all your potentials. If an activity is to easy there is no growth because you become bored or disinterested. On the other hand if you can find the “learning spot” where an activity pushes you to do more the challenge increases your motivation and energy to push ahead.

It is a habit of the brain. The Perseverance Factor is a practical way for overcoming unexpected failures, challenges, and unlucky setbacks in life. Remember your brain is driven by plasticity and you can increase perseverance and resilience by changing the way you think about problems and difficult obstacles in life. Perseverance or the resilience habit challenges your negative self-talk and basic beliefs that cause us to give-up and quit trying to accomplish our goals. Perseverance has been examined in many research studies in cognitive psychology, particularly the work of Aaron Beck, Father of  Cognitive Behavior Therapy  and Martin Seligman, the Founder of Positive Psychology movement.

Self-Coaching Challenge: How to create “flexible optimism”

Commit to challenge self-criticisms and negative thoughts by using positive self-talk. Try the 5 step cognitive tool of:

STOP-Deep Breathing–Challenge Thinking- Reframe- Act. This is not a feel good quick fix or psycho babble cliché. It works and you need to be patient and persevere when using this CBT tool.

Now think back to an actual situation where your  thoughts  upset you and you end choosing to self-limiting and self-sabotaging behavior and don’t do what you wanted to do. For example: ‘You are on your daily run and see the police ahead involved with some situation and you say yourself this is going to be awful, I’m going to be stopped by them and that worries me…’- (and then you turn and run another way to avoid them. Here is a better way to handle this troubling situation by using what cognitive psychologist call “Thought Stopping”

1. As you notice yourself saying these negative automatic thoughts, you can stop them mid-stream by saying to yourself “STOP”.

2. You might also wear a rubber band around your wrist, giving it a little pull each time you notice you are allowing negative thinking to take over or flood your mind. It will make you more aware of how often, and in what situation, you are having the negative thoughts.

3. Challenge the negative thought: Challenge the thoughts, examine them to see if they’re valid. Ask –‘Where’s the evidence for negative thought? Is there another way to look at it?’. Example: ‘Actually, it’s just the police doing their job, I don’t actually know what’s going to happen, all I can do is be who I am and this is going to be okay because they are protecting our neighborhood

4. Reframe situation and thoughts. For example, say I can cope with this situation if  they stop me and want to talk that is okay. I will be safe.  Don’t torture yourself with negative thoughts just be yourself and say this is okay I seen police do their job before and it doesn’t involve me.

5. Act-Calmly go about your business, Say I can do this I have done it before… 

Summary: STOP–Take a Deep Breath  –Challenge Thinking– Reframe Thinking Using Positive thoughts and then Act. 

Good Luck and let us know how this new approach worked for you.

Choosing Self-Coaching: Means Commitment to Openness and Authenticity

Self-Coaching –Is about discovering your strengths and gifts and taking steps to develop in positive ways to reach your full potential. I make the assumption that you already have the ability, talents and knowledge to reach your full potential but irrational thinking, shame, interference and painful experiences are blocking breakthroughs for living a more daring and fulfilling life. I developed a “process with structure” framework to support your goals and push you to not hold back or let interference block the true self you can become. The Self-Coaching principles and processes are focused on your needs and wants. A lot of people can relate to—the frustrations and emotional baggage of barriers in life, and why it is important to reflect and learn new ways to learn from these experiences, and figuring out a more positive way forward. Self-Coaching provides the opportunity to take a pause in order to really experience what you are feeling and how you can create more effective ways to handle difficult life situations in this modern era of constant communication and stimulation.

Key question in the Self-Coaching process is –How do you go about discovering your true potential and the courage to act upon and share your authentic self? In discussing that we are all infallible human beings One answer is to study and listen to Dr. Berne Brown when she so clearly points us in the right direction for living a more fulfilling life based on vulnerability, courage,  openness and authenticity when she writes, “We need our lives back. It’s time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection—the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives.”