This week’s Monday Morning debrief is brought to you by the words ‘deferred gratification’. If you’re not aware of the concept of deferred gratification look up the Stanford marshmallow experiment, it’s the perfect example of the theme I’m developing here.
In 1972 a psychological test by Walter Mishel offered each child in the experiment a marshmallow, with the promise of two at a later time if the one in front of them could be resisted. The ability the resist the sweet was interpreted as a sign of self control that equated well to future success. Instant pleasure resisted for future gains? or a strategy to get more pleasure slightly later?
The Stanford experiment was at the front of my ice cream-headached mind as I rode through the sleet on Sunday, battling my way round a ride that even the most optimistic, glass half full thinker would struggle to call enjoyable. It was not enjoyable, there was no flow, just short sections of slightly less misery amongst an at best mediocre ride.
Which is interesting because I’m usually the kid who scoffs the sweet in front of him straight away, I’m willing to get that instant gratification and gamble that there’ll be more in the future, to quote Oscar Wilde “the only the thing I can’t resist is temptation”. Eat the sweet = instant gratification; it’s better to regret something you did do etc. In my life the only thing to be deferred are deadlines (which brings its own guilty pleasure, no?).
Except it’s not quite true. I ride when it’s miserable, not for the ride there and then. The misery rides are just that; miserable, but I’m willing to defer that particular two-wheeled pleasure for later.
Keep up the base miles and base fitness so that when the going’s good I’ll be good to go. Ready to spend long hours in the saddle, savouring the perfect riding conditions. In my head I’m already enjoying the dry and dusty rides of summer (there will be dry and dusty this year, right?).
So there you go Walter Mishel, maybe you should have skipped the marshmallows and thought about the stimulus a bit more…
Posted on: February 11, 2013