Delayed Gratification and Our Future Selves

Welcome to Episode 10 of Learn Share Grow.  The whole week we have been learning about Willpower and how it can affect our decision making. In this episode we cover delayed discounting, we break down the marshmallow test to see what it means for those who fail 10 years on, and we also cover you vs you 2.0!

I also explain how you can win your copy of one of the best books I've ever read....watch until the end to find out how you can win.

***Youtube has apparently taken down my video for now.....If it doesn't re-appear, the podcast link works :)***



Listen on the Podcast


Contact Hayden:

Full Transcription Below:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Learn Share Grow live with Hayden Wilson. This is Episode 10 which marks the end of Willpower week and it’s been a great journey so far – we’ve looked into why we exhibit certain behaviours and the differences between our self control muscles and how we work on those - and start to get better results in our life.

Today I’m going to be sharing something about delayed gratification with you and also something really interesting on how our mind plays tricks on us and believes that this is a future self, a different person. I’ll get into that a little bit later on.

The first thing I want to discuss with you here today is what’s called delayed discounting. Scientists have proven that when they did a study on chimpanzees versus humans from Harvard, they found – and these weren’t just everyday chimpanzees, they were chimpanzees from the Wolfgang Kohler Chimpanzee clan, an Institute in Germany - the humans and the chimpanzees were given the choice of having two M&M’s or six M&M’s if they waited two minutes.

Results found with the chimpanzees they could delay their gratification 72% of the time and indeed receive the six. What was really interesting though, was with the humans, if you can take a guess – 19%. It’s crazy to think of this number, when we know, it’s only two minutes that we can receive these treats but that’s just human behaviour.

It’s so mind boggling to think why this happens, but this is the process of delayed discounting. The thing is, this was only the case when the gratification was immediate, when it was seen - they knew that they could get that result.

Once they put those M&M’s in front of the humans that’s when it really started to kick in and the scarcity mindset started happening and they decided yes, I need these now rather than waiting. The thing with the delayed discounting is the longer the wait for the reward, the less it’s actually worked. The further you put it out into the future, the less it becomes worth to us as human beings. So how can we start to reduce our delayed discounting?

The first trick that you might like to try is to put it out of sight, out of mind.   For example, just say you have some lollies or treats on your desk, it’s been proven that just by simply moving that item into the drawer underneath or putting it out of sight, it will reduce the number of times you’ll give into your cravings and actually eat that treat. Or maybe it’s a pack of cigarettes on your desk and if you move it and put it out of sight then you can start to get better results. These are just small things that we can try.

The second thing I want you try is to use the 10 minute rule. The 10 minute time is perfect because it tricks your brain – what you’re delaying is further enough into the future for you to start thinking about the consequences of what you are about to do. So when you’re using those 10 minutes I want you to think of your end goal and go through it – is this something that I really want to do and how will this affect my results at the end of my challenge.

That’s for people who say I won’t do this, I will give up smoking, blah blah blah. For someone who wants to start exercising, start going to the gym, they can use the reverse method of this and say, I will get started, I will do 10 minutes and use the 10 minute rule in that way.

So if you can’t get up and go for a run, just say I’m going to go for a 10 minute walk and you’ll find, that quite often, once you start going for that walk that 10 minutes is nothing and then you push it out. Scientists proved in studies that this happened with someone who was smoking cigarettes - he started off with 10 minutes, then after that 10 minutes was up he started setting himself additional challenges – he’s got through the first 10 minutes, maybe I can do 5 minutes more.

So of course I know we all have to be realistic and we can’t be perfect all of the time but these are just a couple of little strategies that you might like to try.   The second thing that still works into the delayed discounting is this fascinating test – you may have heard of it – it’s called the marshmallow test.

It’s very popular in psychology and a few different books, and obviously in the areas of willpower, and that’s why we’re talking about it. A guy by the name of Walter Mischel, in the 1960’s got a few 4 year olds together and started to do this test with them. They could have one marshmallow now, or two in fifteen minutes. The fascinating part about this is – and they’ve recreated this, you can watch it on YouTube – it’s so funny watching these kids, they cover their eyes, or put it out of sight and try all these little tricks.

Ten years on from this, Mischel followed up with them, and found that the kids that delayed were more popular, they had better results at school and they responded better to stress. This is great but when you compare it many years later with those who had the immediate gratification bug, they found that smoking and drinking increased, they had more chance of being on drugs, their gambling was up, their savings for retirement were down, they were more prone to participating in unprotected sex, and they procrastinated more.

So it’s amazing to see the differences between two different people and how we can tell, from such an early age, and from such a simple test, such as choosing a marshmallow and delaying that gratification, it’s amazing to see to see the results from that many years on from that. So how can we lower this discount rate?

When you’re in that situation and you’re not quite sure, and you really want to, and you think you are going to break this habit of being good, I want you to think of yourself enjoying the reward – whether that be if you’re saving money, I want you to imagine you’re on that holiday already, or you’re flying first class, or you’re jumping in a pool, and enjoying the actual experience.

Or maybe you’ve got a six pack and you’re really fit, imagine yourself, you’ve got the six pack, who’s surrounding you – think of all these options of what you are going to achieve when you’re not going to break, and will stick to all your plan. The second thing I want you to do is consider both options, fully and completely.

What is going to happen if I immediately gratify myself now and participate in this behaviour or what’s going to happen if I don’t and I reach my end goal quicker. I want you to stop and think about the entire process. Then the last thing you need to do is ask yourself, after you’ve done these two steps of thinking about enjoying it and also looking at both options, is it still really worth it, to participate in that.

The third point that I’m bringing up today – and we’re going to announce a big give-away at the end of this video, so keep watching – the third point here I want to bring up, is what’s called the future self – and this is fascinating.

What they’ve found is there’s you in the present and then what they call 'You 2.0', which is you in the future.   What studies have found is that the future you has a decreased chance of stress, has less anxiety, you are more organised, have higher motivation, your pain tolerance is up and you make better decisions and this is still you, just the perception of yourself in the future.

This is also why we get so excited and pumped up for goals that we set, because we see ourselves as being different in the future - we’ll have more time to be able to work on our different goals, we’ll be different people in our lives. To wrap an example around this, students were surveyed and in the now, they were told they could give 27 minutes worth of tutoring for the term.

Then when they found that their future selves in the next term they could give 85 minutes of tutoring - a huge difference, nearly 3.5 times what they are now to what they thought they could do.

But the truth is, nothing’s going to be different in the future unless you change it. So why does this happen? It happens because in the brain there are two different parts and they basically act as two independent cogs on a wheel because one is making the decisions for now and one is making decisions for the future.

So you’ve got your now self and your future self. There are a couple of different things you can do to fix this.

The first thing I want you to do is imagine your future self. So imagine what you need to change to get you to that point. Most likely, it’s to stay on track and hit the goals that you’re currently trying to hit. I also want you to realise that nothing can be different in the future unless we change it.

The second thing that you can do – there are services out there that you can email, it’s been going since 2003 – it can send you a reminder date for a time in the future – and you can decide that on 31/12/2017 I want to receive an email from my future self saying congratulations for hitting these goals. This is a hugely popular technique that goal setters like Brian Tracey use, and it’s amazing to have these services available to us where you can actually get a future email sent to you on that exact date.

Just before we finish up I want to – and while I’m talking about this - leave a question in the right hand side there – all week we’ve been talking about willpower – I want to let you know that we all need to be realistic and none of us have an amazing willpower, well some of us do and some of us don’t, but it’s not a competition, you need to realise that everyone’s at different stages, but we can all get there. Like I’ve mentioned all week, it’s a muscle and I’ve given you strategies and if you haven’t quite picked up on some of them, feel free to go back or shoot me an email and you can realise that everyone has the same capability.

You can work up to, it’s not too far gone but let’s just be realistic about it. Don’t set goals that are so far ahead of yourself that you’re destined to fail. Set realistic goals and have that plan in place so that when it does come around we can mitigate the damage and actually get done what we need to get done.

All right, now it’s time for the announcement. (promotion expires 25/2/16)

I’m going to flip my board – first time that I’ve done this – flip my board like this. What I’m doing is a give-away. I’ll zoom in. We have the most amazing resource that I’ve quoted and this is one of my favourite books ever. It’s the ‘Willpower Instinct’ by Kelly Mcgonigal – that book right there.

I have three copies in my possession, ready to give away and I’ll be sending them out worldwide, to wherever you are living, as long as you adhere to these simple rules. I want you to share this video. I want you to like my page on Facebook which is FB.com/IAMHAYDENWILSON.

And then what I want you to do is tell me one thing that you have learnt this week from Willpower Week on Learn Share Grow. Once you do that, I will pick it up. Feel free to send me a message on Facebook or email me at [email protected] but this is basically how you are going to get this amazing resource.

Kelly McGonigal has done a fantastic job and it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read – I’ve been through it about 4 – 6 times in reading form and then I’ve listened to it maybe 6 or 7 times as well, unbelievable resource. If you have any questions chuck them on over on the left hand side. Otherwise I’ll catch you all next week.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Willpower Week and you’ve got some strategies to learn from this, from Kelly and from the other sources that I share.

If catch you all next time.


Dopamine and It's Effect on Decision Making

Today on episode 9 we are talking Dopamine and how we can use this natural response inside our brain for kicking ass. We also cover how marketers exploit our dopamine responses followed by a couple of ways you can harness it for good, but also things to note about the downside.

All come with real life strategies so you can actually use this information to benefit.




Listen on the Podcast


Contact Hayden:

Full Transcription Below:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Learn Share Grow, Episode 9.

Today we are talking about Dopamine and its effects on how we make certain decisions.

This is willpower week. The first week I introduced you to will, want and won’t power. Then we covered off some stuff about how you can recharge your willpower and how you can start building the muscle of willpower. Then we started getting around some decision making effects of the willpower principles, and today we’re going to be talking about dopamine and its effects on the decisions that we make.

So first of all, if we were to define dopamine, it’s actually a neurotransmitter in the brain and what its main role is, is to create anticipation. It tells the brain to pay attention because a reward is coming. What I need you to realise, first thing off the bat, is that dopamine gives us the anticipation and the promise of reward but what it doesn’t actually do, is give us that reward – it’s all about the excitement of the reward.

We can see this – if I zoom in – welcome everyone - we can see this on Christmas morning – and you can see my amazing graphics here. Christmas morning as you can see here, it’s about 8 o’clock, or 7 o’clock and little Timmy there, is quite excited for those beautifully wrapped presents, the dopamine is running heavily through his system with the excitement of opening these presents.

But then what we see afterwards, after the dopamine has cleared up and he’s got his little console and his toy truck he’s not as happy because the dopamine has cleared up and he’s already received the reward, and the anticipation, the excitement of Christmas morning has all of a sudden gone. This is the job of dopamine.

The second example I want to share with you over here on the right hand side, is some research that was conducted back in the 1927 by Ivan Pavlov. Ivan was a researcher and he had a couple of dogs. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Pavlov’s Dog Theory, but basically, he noticed that when he provided food they would salivate. So from that point, he discovered that he could bring the food out and when he rang a bell the dogs would still salivate.

So at the top you’ve got a dog plus food equals saliva, then what he realises is a dog plus food plus when he rang a bell when the food was ready they would salivate and he eventually trained them to have a dog plus the bell, no food the situation, and they would again, salivate because the bell creates the trigger to tell the dog that food is coming and the dopamine release begins -so the anticipation and excitement by the dog the dopamine releases so it will happen.

The ways that we can start to mitigate how much damage and start to be aware of the triggers is when you look at your life, start looking at how you respond to an alcohol trigger, how you respond to a food trigger.

Are you actually more excited about the promise of food, the promise of the reward, or are you actually looking forward to enjoying the food?

Another big one, a huge one, is both Facebook and email notifications. I turned all mine off because just by hearing that ‘ding’ that we’re all familiar with, the noises, and that’s actually why Facebook made the noises, it creates excitement, the dopamine release comes and, we’re trying to perform our work and then without knowing it, all of a sudden we’re checking our notifications on Facebook because our body’s telling us that there’s a reward over on Facebook – it’s bringing up the dopamine levels and saying ‘there’s a reward waiting for us over on Facebook’ so we click on that notification and there’s a nice little 1 in the globe there, so we just need to be aware.

A strategy around this is that I want you to try to look at, when you start forming these patterns, you start noticing that every time you start feeling a certain way when the notification comes, I want you to – before you check the notification – how you’re feeling and then I want you to check it afterwards. If there’s a major discrepancy we can start to pick up and realise, and train our brain yeah sure, a Facebook notification, or an email notification, or we saw an advertisement on TV for a nice burger went off. But how do we feel after we’ve checked that email or how do we feel after we’ve had that burger? Was it exciting and did it live up to the reward we thought it would be? So it’s mainly about awareness when we’re using dopamine type triggers.

The next thing I want to talk about is dopamine marketing. So companies have done a ton of research into the psychology behind our decision making and they’ve realised just how important dopamine levels are and what I’m going to show you at the end is ways that you can start playing detective because what some crazy, sneaky companies have been doing is, if you walk past a bakery for example, you’ll generally smell the smell of bread and bakery items like donuts, you know, all these nice flavours.

If you notice Subway for example, is a prime example, whenever you walk past a Subway it always smells the same and there’s a specific reason for this - companies like that employ marketing companies behind them, it’s a scent company – so they’ve paid to have scents that they push out into the world a particular smell and that creates a response, raises your dopamine and you think, hmm, that smells like cake, or fairy floss, or fresh bread – gives you the response that I’m going to get that reward if I go in and eat those delicious foods and that’s going to end up happy - and obviously the sales of the company are going up.

So just be aware of the smells that you’re bringing in when you pass certain shops.

The second thing I want you to be aware of, is the free sample you get when you walk into Coles or Woolworth’s or one of the shopping centres. The way it works is, yes we get something for free, and that’s a major benefit.

The shopping companies have worked this out so when we do get that something for free and generally this free stuff is when we first walk into the store, because all of a sudden, we go into this crazy reward seeking mode where we start to crave certain behaviours and we start looking for the rewards all around the store. Eventually, what we’re going to find is that after they give you that free sample, you’re going to have more stuff at the end of your shopping day – more stuff in your trolley, so just be careful of that.

And the third thing that I want you to look at is when they have the 2 for 1 or the save, or whatever sale they might be having, you need to start looking at why you’re actually making that decision, are you addicted, because they’ve found studies that you’re actually addicted to the process of saving money.

Are you actually addicted to that or are you experiencing a bargain and actually purchasing an item that you wanted to purchase. It’s very popular now for shops to have 2 for $5 and then when you look at it the actual item is only $3 each but the way they market it and the dopamine release inside of you because of this marketing it raises its levels because you think you’re getting a bargain but really, do you actually need an extra bunch of kale for example.

I just want you to be aware of these things and realise that these marketing companies and these large scale organisations, and even smaller ones, are playing these tricks to lure you in under the premise that it facilitates the immediate gratification principle.

So whenever you start doing these things it starts messing with your brain and the dopamine levels rise and it tells you that you need to fix this right now, I need a reward. So what you need to do is I want you to start playing detective and start noticing these certain smells or sounds, or how certain things feel in a shop, I want you to be that detective and ask what are they trying to achieve, what do I really want, what’s my why. We’ve talked about that all week and it’s really important.

The third topic I want to talk about here today, in regards to dopamine, is yes it’s got a good side, but like anything, it also has a bad side. So the good side, and how you can maximise yourself and your results with dopamine is they’ve found particular ways to, I guess, hack the system.

So if you have the example of using it to your advantage when you’ve been trying to put something off – if you compare what you’ve been trying to put off, with a reward based system then you can start to become really productive.

Say for example, you’ve been putting off this certain paperwork, you didn’t want to do your tax return – if you take that paperwork into a positive environment, say a cafe or somewhere nice and you start doing it on the beach, the dopamine levels are going to rise and you’ll start to use it to your advantage rather than being taken advantage of.

The second thing you might like to do, and I’ve done it in my life, is start listening to audio books when you’re walking your dog, so not only are you learning yourself, but you’re also walking your dog so you’re feeling good and getting out there – the walk is good for your dog and you’re feeding your brain.

They actually found that with one lady who was putting off cleaning up one of the rooms in her house – we all have this problem, we have this junk room – and when the facilitator looked at her behaviour they asked why are you putting this off and what sort of rewards and triggers can we implement to help you.

They found out she was deeply in love with Christmas – the Christmas carols, the sounds and the smells of Christmas so to help her get through this process, and this is in the middle of June, they put on some Christmas carols, they lit some lights and actually put some tinsel around the room and that got her in the mood and then slowly she started using the increased dopamine levels by using the strategy of getting in the mood for Christmas and using that happiness to then start to do the thing that she actually needed to get done.

The bad side of dopamine release is that when you start manipulating it you need to be aware of the carrot and the stick syndrome.

So like I said at the start, it gives the promise of a reward but it’s not actually the reward itself. So you need to be careful around why you’re craving certain things, ask your why. So if you’re dieting for the sake of dieting or to achieve an extrinsic result it’s not going to be as gratifying as if you’re doing it for intrinsic reasons like health, or you want to live longer for your kids, that sort of thing, so it’s a bit higher level, but that’s what you need to be aware of, don’t get stuck into just going after the reward all the time – start thinking of the bigger reason, the why behind it.

Some strategies around this is to practise mindfulness. A lot of the time, they’ve found that people eating junk food actually just enjoy the rush and the dopamine levels on the way to the shopping centre or the way to the drive through – that was the exciting part – and after they ate the pizza or went shopping they didn’t feel as good.

So what I want you to do, is next time you’re really feeling the squeeze and you feel like your willpower is about to give up, I want you to enjoy that item. Let’s take the example of eating a burger – I want you to stop and eat that burger. If you normally woof it down in 5 minutes and feel guilty afterwards, I want you to take 10 minutes and enjoy every single bite and realise what are the flavours I’m experiencing while I’m eating this, what smells am I experiencing, is my environment right? I want you to take the time and ask yourself at the end, am I enjoying this process and am I having a good time and would I do this again.

Or are you just doing it because of the excitement and after it’s done you’re thinking what else, when’s the next time I can cheat on my diet. It’s a lot about mindfulness that afterwards you feel bad. I want you to cut it out, you’ve experienced it, you know it’s bad so this can help raise your level of awareness to stop that behaviour next time it comes around – I want you to try to remember what the feeling was like.

If it feels good then there’s nothing, there’s no bad foods or bad behaviour that can’t be built into a plan so if you believe you’re spending too much and there’s some guilt around that, it’s probably because you’re doing too much of something. So let’s start looking at areas where you can build it in.

You can use it as a reward which will motivate you even more to take action by exhibiting certain behaviour so we can always build a plan around what you actually want to get done.

There’s nothing off limits.

It’s about mitigating the damage that certain things do and build it into our plan. Things that we need to realise this week – I want you to start to raise your awareness around what triggers you, whether it be that email ding or the Facebook notification sound going off, or whether it be an advertisement on TV – just be a bit more aware of the triggers that get those dopamine levels and raise that excitement. The second thing I want you to do is start realise what you feel like after you’ve completed that task. Was it as good as what you expected?

The third thing I want you to do, is to have a look and start playing that detective role around what you think marketers have been doing to you, whether that be when you’re walking past a Subway shop or when you’re in the shopping centre next and start smelling certain behaviours – I know Myers is a big one with their real perfume smells – they will spray perfume outside the shop to lure the girls in to buy those certain fragrances and help you spend money.

So I just want you to be more aware and you will start to have a feeling of empowerment and awareness when that happens. You’ll start to feel that you are back in control – you’ll know why they’re doing it and that will help you stop the behaviour and get back to that why you’re actually doing it in the first place – what is your want.

The fourth thing is, dopamine is necessary. Without it, there was a case where a man had an accident and then all of a sudden he had zero desire for anything else in life and he was reported to be suicidal and he actually hated his life because he had no dopamine levels at all. So it is necessary and without it, we wouldn’t crave a reward. So what you need to raise your awareness with this week is when we choose, are we choosing a fulfilling reward such as getting towards our end goal or are we choosing an empty reward which is ungratifying, it never ends and it’s just a cycle that goes around and around and around which is what a lot of crash dieters exhibit because they are always looking for that next hit of dopamine.

So in a way, it’s more powerful than a drug.

That’s just a few things that I want you to be aware of.

If you need some more information - there’s no questions at the moment – if you’ve got any questions just jump over there and leave a message in the chat box or down below after this video’s finished.

Willpower is one of the most powerful things that we can learn to embrace and start to manipulate to get the best out of ourselves. It all just takes a little bit of awareness on the scientific reasonings and the inner workings of our brain and why we do certain things.

Tomorrow I’m going to be sharing the most useful resource, as far as books, that I’ve ever found on the power of willpower and our willpower instinct – I’ll be sharing that with you – and I’ve got a big announcement tomorrow which I will leave for tomorrow – it’s going to be a way for us all to share the information besides these videos of course.

I appreciate your support 100%. If you think this video is useful I’d greatly appreciate if you would subscribe, there’s a subscribe button up the top. Also if you can tag and share with friends that you think would benefit from the information that I’ve provided today, it’s obviously hugely beneficial.

Thank you for watching. Any questions to [email protected] or jump on my website haydenwilson.com.au. I’ll catch you all tomorrow when I’ll be going over some resources and I’m going to provide that worksheet, and of course, the big competition.

So thanks for watching – I’ll catch you all next time. Ciao.