Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Be The Tortoise & Win Life's Race
It turns out that the race goes to those who can wait, according to Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker. Based on research with roots in the 1960s, kids who can figure out how to postpone one treat in order to get two usually grow up to be more adept in school and in life.
The ability to control one's choices and actions, to choose to delay gratification for a better long-term outcome, helps tortoises think ahead and plan their futures.
It also turns out that poor kids tend to have more trouble waiting. Fortunately, it also turns out that many kids who are hares for treats can learn the self-control strategies that are instinctively used by natural tortoises. So there's no reason to think that poverty is hereditary; rather, poor people don't have many gratifications that they can practice delaying.
Basically, all you have to do is control what you are thinking about, what you are paying attention to. Meditation is perhaps the oldest and best practice for paying attention. While it may or may not raise your IQ, it can help you use your head. And meditation usually improves your emotional intelligence too!
But I can't help noticing that we live in a culture where we are constantly extorted by advertising to act like hares, to work and earn more, to buy and consume more and more junk products, to worry about winning the image race, instead of just being ourselves and being good for ourselves.
If you can't be good enough for yourself, you'll never win your own race or your own life.