“Through delayed fulfillment, good desires grow stronger.”
Gregory the Great

Almost fifty years ago the famous marshmallow experiment suggested the importance of being able to wait.

There are many troubling aspects of the encroachment of today’s technologies in our daily life. Perhaps one of the more subtle is that we grow accustomed to immediate gratification. And so we become more like the children who are unable or unwilling to wait. For anything.

We expect a reply to our email right away; we expect the answer to our question right away; we expect our package to be delivered right away.

The issue here can confuse us: What could be wrong with getting a good thing right away? If we can get it sooner than later, isn’t that better?

In this, as in other cases, perhaps what would have seemed the position of an old, ornery coot turns out to be true. It’s often better to have to wait.

Seeds do not sprout, much less give fruit, for some length of time. And the sower learns to cultivate; and to ponder; and to wait.

Waiting can give the opportunity better to see things for what they are; it also occasions growth in self-restraint, and patience. Many of the most important things in life are things that we must receive. Waiting can, indeed should, dispose us to receive well.

This will require having a different mindset, a mindset that itself needs practice, and cultivation.

Gregory the Great (c. 540-604 A.D.) set aside the wealth of his Roman family to pursue the monastic life. Called to a life of action as a papal legate, he was later elected pope, in which office he became known as a reformer.

Image: In an experiment made famous at Stanford in the 60’s and 70’s children are presented with a marshmallow and then told they will be given another one if they are willing to delay eating the first for some set length of time. Later studies correlate the willingness to wait and various measures of ‘success’ in life. This image is from a more recent iteration of this experiment.

Become A LifeCraft Member

Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.

If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience. Your financial assistance enables me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.

Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:

  • Man of the Household (Course)
  • Woman of the Household (Course)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

Dead Time, Living Time, Technology, and Leisure

“I have time when I am not conscious of time which presses in upon me in its empty quality, as lifeless time. He who has leisure thereby disposes of boundless time; he lives in the fullness of time, be he active or at rest.” Friedrich Juenger, The Failure of...

read more
Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

Authority and the Gift of Fatherhood

There is perhaps no greater intimacy possible between men than when a son looks to a father from whom he has learned to be a father himself. This Father’s Day, in addition to remembering my own father, I am reflecting on the astounding gift, and challenge, of being a...

read more
Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

Seeking the Unchanging in Bodily Things

“...it has been proved in the life of every man that though his loves are human, and therefore changeable, yet in proportion as he attaches them to things unchangeable, so they mature and broaden.” Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men Life today is characterized by mobility....

read more

Pin It on Pinterest