ambition(lessness) and not-the-marshmallow-test

It’s not good enough to be happy,
it’s a deficit to be content.
It’s important to rise to a level where
you can be sad and incompetent.

There is a test that I came across somewhere and I wish I could find a reference for it now. It’s not the delayed gratification marshmallow test, it’s much more interesting. You put two pairs of plates with marshmallows in front of a kid with a sibling. The first pair of plates, call them A and B, have 4 and 5 marshmallows on them respectively. The second pair, C and D, have 3 and 2 marshmallows respectively. The child then gets a choice of A or C, the sibling gets the other in the pair – they can get more, but only at the cost of getting less than their sibling. It’s supposed to be a developmental milestone to be able to choose plate A.
I don’t think we’ve hit that milestone as a species – we still prize competition above collaboration (not that that’s allowed in the marshmallow test above, but it is in “real life”).  “Up or Out” employment policies push competition – doing better than your colleagues instead of better for everyone, winning at mine’s bigger than yours even if that means cutting of a chunk of someone else’s to make it smaller.
There is a cultural obligation to want more than you need, to take more than the person next to you… That’s why there is no toilet paper in the supermarket, seas full of plastic from purposeless possessions, and idiots shooting kangaroos they don’t even eat at the back of my place.
Sure there are evolutionary reasons to have the most territory, etc, so you can spread your seed the furthest, but when are we going to grow out of that developmental stage and pass the not-the-marshmallow-test?

My ambitionlessness is not a deficit. It’s a pass in the not-the-marshmallow-test.

1 Comment

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One response to “ambition(lessness) and not-the-marshmallow-test

  1. Pingback: Mansfield Park — a few random thoughts | Darren Goossens

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