I can think. I can wait. I can fast.
I just finished The Long Game by Dorie Clark, and she reminded me of the "marshmallow study". In the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a famous study with a group of children. He left every child alone in a room with a marshmallow with the promise that they would get two of them if they resisted without eating the treat until his return 15 minutes later. Some restrained themselves, others went immediately for the marshmallow.
Decades later, they checked how those kids were doing in life, and it turned out that the ones who had the strength to wait those 15 minutes performed better in almost all aspects of life.
Reading about this experiment reminded me of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. In particular, I remember this powerful conversation in which the merchant Kamaswami asked Siddhartha what he was able to do, and the latter famously answered, "I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
"What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?"
"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
"I believe that's everything!"
"And what's the use of that? For example, the fasting-- what is it
"It is very good, sir. When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the
smartest thing he could do. When, for example, Siddhartha hadn't
learned to fast, he would have to accept any kind of service before this
day is up, whether it may be with you or wherever, because hunger would
force him to do so. But like this, Siddhartha can wait calmly, he knows
no impatience, he knows no emergency, for a long time he can allow
hunger to besiege him and can laugh about it. This, sir, is what
fasting is good for."
Self-restraint and patience are essential in any growth, learning and transformation process. That's why it's important to practice them, starting with small things, like going a while without something you tend to indulge in a bit too often (coffee, in my case).
Thanks for reading One Apple A Day! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.