The Surest Indicator that You will Succeed in the Pursuit of Passion and Freedom

Photograph by Steve Snodgrass

 

What this power is I can not say; All I know is that it exists and becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.

~Alexander Graham Bell

Would you rather have one marshmallow right now or two after I come back after some time? A question put to four year old kids in the famous Marshmallow Test. The surest indicator of success in life, they say. If only it were that simple for us too. The pursuit of passion and freedom is like the marshmallow test for seekers of freedom. Even considering how damn tempting marshmallows can be to four year-olds.

The hidden cost

We have a wonderful life. Great enough to have provided us the opportunity and the means to set out in pursuit of passion and freedom. If we stand to lose nothing, then the worst that could happen is continuing to live the way we do. Just like the kids stood to gain nothing by not participating in the test, except a marshmallow or two. However, those fifteen minutes was to be a reflection of the rest of their lives, though they didn’t know it. For us, continuing the way we are is the worst case scenario, and one that we will fight tooth and nail to change. Going back to the lives we lived is not possible. We will never be satisfied with it. Unless we start following our path to discover our passion and freedom, we will never know what can make us truly happy and fulfilled. We must have faith that there is something at the end of this path.

Speaking of faith

The kids had no guarantee that they would get two marshmallows if they resisted the impulse to grab the one as soon as possible. But they never doubted that they would. To them words of an adult are absolute truth. They had faith that adults will do what they say. If only we could be so naive again. Our faith must take a greater leap. We have no guarantee that we will find our passion or freedom. Or if we will succeed after finding it. Yet, we must stay true to this pursuit. Religious or not, this path is not chosen by those who don’t have faith.  What assurance can we have that what we are doing will be fruitful, especially because it goes against the status quo. We do not have the luxury of choice in this matter,

Of choices

The kids had a clear cut choice to make. They could either eat one marshmallow or wait and eat two. The study says that the main difference that separated the two groups of kids was what they chose to do in the fifteen minutes. The ones who wanted to have two marshmallows exercised self restraint. They did whatever it took to not have to look at the marshmallow in front of them, or perhaps even think about it. We too must face the hundreds of choices that life throws our way. To go out drinking with friends or stay home and write a post? To watch the new superhero movie or to send those emails to prospects. To stay late in office to please the boss or to leave because we will quit anyway. Too often we let ourselves be distracted from our path. Sometimes we let ourselves be distracted by the path when we should be taking a break. It is difficult to know what to do when. However, making the choice is easy. Living with the consequence, not so much.

The hard part

I believe the main purpose of the marshmallow test was to see who could resist the temptation of instant gratification. This self restraint was the indicator of success later on in their lives. Unfortunately, our self restraint is tested in a different way. Most of us have scratched and stumbled our way into this pursuit for passion and freedom. Probably, having sampled a few years of the shallow and insipid world around us. Our ultimate goal in life then is to live a life that is fun, exciting, and fulfilling. We can’t wait for this end to come soon enough, but we must be patient. On the other hand, we must ensure that this end is attainable by testing and getting a few quick wins. It is hard to choose between quick wins and long term accomplishments. It is like telling the kids that they can have the second marshmallow only if they lick the first one but not eat it, while waiting for the adult to come back.

Is there an end to our pursuit? Will we get two marshmallows in the end? I don’t know. But we won’t ever find out if we give up now. If we give up now, we will always regret never finding out where this path might have lead. I believe that not giving up is the surest indicator of our future success. I will pursue my passion and freedom even if it takes me the rest of my life. What about you?

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