this is an experiment i like to remind myself of every once in a while. i can see how self-control, or lack thereof, can more or less determine the final outcome in several situations in my own life and the lives of the people around me. there have been simply too many "if only xx had been able to stop him/herself from yyy, then zzzz would not have happened".
if i had been able to sit down and actually study for my final year exams, i would have obtained a 2:1 (i was just 0.0XX away). if i had been able to resist downing 6 cadbury freddy frog chocolate bars at a go, i wouldn't have developed this hell of an ulcer overnight.
(this para is imaginary.) if i had been able to restrain myself from lashing out in anger at my boss over a minor matter, i wouldn't have been skipped over for this round of promotions. if i had been able to keep my mouth shut from blabbering that untruthful hurtful insult, i wouldn't have lost my best friend of thirty years. if i had been able to control myself from getting back together with my violent and abusive boyfriend, i wouldn't be lying in hospital with a broken rib.
if jack neo had been able to resist the temptation of all those women around him...... okay, i think i'm sidetracking (because most of the above scenarios don't actually contribute to the point i'm trying to make, hehe).
the point i really want to make is that the self-control, all this withstanding and holding out, is all for a more worthy goal in the slightly-further distance. if you read the article, it tells you, this kid loved marshmallow, and she was willing to wait 5 minutes with a ready-to-eat marshmallow in hand which she badly wanted, in order to get the greater reward of two such marshmallows 5 minutes later, as she had been promised.
the key, i think, is to be able to see into space / ahead of time, beyond this marshmallow. the article provides some simple "solutions"/exercises for the kid -- imagine the marshmallow as something else, say, a cloud; imagine it is a picture, etc. in short, to distract oneself from immediate gratification. for the adult, no concrete "solution" is offered.
i think, perhaps every person, growing up, creates his/her own methods for delayed gratification. regardless of the method(s) used, i guess the most important thing is for it to work. for me, what i think i really need is to (i) remember that delayed gratification is an option that's available and (ii) focus on how greater the delayed reward will be if i just put up first with this current inconvenience and discomfort. oh, and perhaps as an attempt at distraction, (iii) try to derive fun and some value from the immediate inconvenience.