A boy receives a marshmallow. If the boy restrains himself from eating the marshmallow for 3 min. he would receive more marshmallows. If he eats it in less than 3 min. there’d be no more marshmallows. This test become a predictor of social success in someone’s life — the ability to delay gratification for the long term benefit.
It implies intellectualization, abstracting and the one’s ability to understand the future and see the results.
It implies discipline and calming the sensory impulses of the body.
It implies capacity of self-analysis and see what is important: the current marshmallow or more in the future.
The boy has imagination and he is resourceful.
— Some will try to beg, to generate sympathy.
— Other will make you laugh.
— Some will try to steal it.
All types of methods will be applied for the boy to get what he wants. And what does he want?
THE NOW — and the promised marshmallow kingdom
In this process, as he keeps on trying, he develops several traits which start to group together as models to be replicated for him in order to satisfy his needs & wants.
As the boy matures, several things happen with his needs:
· more marshmallows now and in the future
· marshmallow with topping and flavours
· several thousand other things beside the marshmallow
· sometimes the one in the future becomes futile
· other’s come into the boy’s life.
For an ever growing and more complex web of needs, the boy models several patterns and feels somehow he needs to separate as they cannot operate simultaneously: business, social, sexual, family, emotional — depending on his needs and wants, there are many more other subtler and complex sides.
Masks & personalities = means to an end, servants to the boy’s needs with a role to negotiate the reality so the boy gets what he wants. As his parents are no longer able to provide for his needs, it becomes more confusing as he is solely responsible for satisfying his needs, based on abilities & circumstances:
Trading something = promising a smile or whatever effort in the future to get the marshmallow now
Brute force = taking the marshmallow from another
Cheating = lying about eating the marshmallow
Scientist = finding a way to replicate the marshmallow
Outsmart others = convince them to give him their marshmallows.
It can become severely overwhelming and the need for simplicity & clarity, for one model to rule them all may appear. When this does not work, we go further down the rabbit hole intellectualizing up to a point where the fine line between who serves who becomes blurred.
This marvellous creation of intellect meant to serve the boy becomes the master, and now the boy finds himself serving to the many masters he created.
These masters have different needs and many times are in conflict one with another — up to a point where he completely cancels the present marshmallow for the future kingdom of marshmallows all these masters are promising.
He is now totally disconnected from himself and starts wondering about the purpose of things and life.
Ever wandering what is real? What’s my true nature? Who am I? What is true? To what end? Who am I? What is wrong with me? Somebody, please, fix me. Is it spiritual? Is it chemical? Is it social or financial?
Rules, money, obligations, culture, career — none of these are hardwired. The truth is the boy. Changing that will only inflict pain, as the boy cannot change himself. Invariably he tries harder and harder to pretend the marshmallow does not exist, that he does not want the marshmallow, that the marshmallow is bad.
What the boy who now is a man can change is the way his characters negotiate reality for him and provide for his needs in order to feel safe, loved, give him a space to play and others to play with. Paradoxically, he believes that intellect is the answer, pushing harder, waiting longer will get him to the marshmallow kingdom where all heavenly joy & abundance reside.
As all these masters suck the life and energy out of him — is not the boy that gets there. One of his character masters. Many times when the boy achieves what he wants he feels empty as the boy is no longer there — instead there’s the character that needs life, as they are a fiction, a creation with no real contact to life.
And now the kingdom is ruled by lifeless characters which create models for others. What is the cure?
Laughter, play — not a single pure moment of joy is created inside our mind, it is only experienced in the present.