In a world of instant gratification, it can seem like the concept of "waiting" is on the verge of extinction. But learning to wait builds character and could even improve decision-making skills, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found that the act of waiting increases patience, and that patience seems to help people make smarter decisions about money. "When people wait, it makes them place a higher value on what they're waiting for, and that higher value makes them more patient," study researcher Ayelet Fishbach said in a statement. "They see more value in what they are waiting for because of a process psychologists call self-perception -- we learn what we want and prefer by assessing our own behavior, much the same way we learn about others by observing how they behave."
The study, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, included five experiments. For one of the experiments, researchers had study participants sign up to participate in online studies in exchange for getting to be part of a money lottery. The participants could choose whether they wanted to be part of a lottery that would involve winning $50 at a sooner date, or a lottery that would involve winning $55 at a later date.
Then, researchers split the study participants up into three groups. In the first group, participants were told that they could either wait just three days to win $50, or wait longer -- 23 days -- to win $55. In the second group, participants were told they could wait 30 days to win $50, or wait 50 days to win $55.
The third group was told they could wait 30 days to win $50 or 50 days to win $55, but they would need to wait several days before making the decision of whether they wanted to wait shorter for the $50 or longer for the $55. This group ended up waiting 27 days before researchers contacted them asking what choice they wanted to make -- at which point, they only had to wait three more days to get the $50, or 23 more days to get the $55.
Thirty-one percent of people in the first group decided to wait the extra time for the extra $5, while 56 percent of people in the second group decided to wait the extra time for the extra money. However, nearly all the people in the third group -- 86 percent -- decided to wait the extra time for the money. Researchers chalked this up to their having already waited 27 days before getting to make their decision -- in other words, they waited this long already, so why not wait a little more to get the additional payout?
"People tend to value things more in the present and discount their worth in the future," Fishbach said in the statement. "But my research suggests that making people wait to make a decision can improve their patience because the process of waiting makes the reward for waiting seem more valuable."
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Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corp
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch recently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/rupert-murdoch-meditation-transcendental_n_3131268.html" target="_blank">tweeted</a> that he was trying out <a href="http://www.tm.org/" target="_blank">Transcendental Meditation</a>, a popular technique developed in the 1960s and followed today by famous practitioners like Oprah, David Lynch and Candy Crowley. The media tycoon <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/rupert-murdoch-meditation-transcendental_n_3131268.html" target="_blank">said on Twitter in April</a>, "Everyone recommends, not that easy to get started, but said to improve everything!"
Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco Systems
Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco Systems, meditates every night and spends her Saturdays doing a "digital detox." In her previous role as Cisco's head of engineering, Warrior oversaw 22,000 employees, and she<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/technology/silicon-valley-worries-about-addiction-to-devices.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0" target="_blank"> told the New York Times in 2012</a> that taking time to meditate and unplug helped her to manage it all. “It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,” <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/technology/silicon-valley-worries-about-addiction-to-devices.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0" target="_blank">she said</a>. “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”
Tony Schwartz, Founder & CEO, The Energy Project
The Energy Project CEO Tony Schwartz has been meditating for over 20 years. He originally started the practice to quiet his busy mind, <a href="http://csp.org/practices/meditation/docs/schwartz-meditation.html" target="_blank">according to his book <em>What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America</em></a>. Schwartz says that meditating has freed him from migraines and helped him develop patience, and he also advocates mindfulness as a way to improve work performance. "Maintaining a steady reservoir of energy -- physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually -- requires refueling it intermittently," <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/12/how-to-accomplish-more-by-doin.html" target="_blank">Schwartz wrote in a Harvard Business Review blog</a>.
Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
The Ford Motor Company chairman is a big proponent of meditation in the business world, <a href="http://www.inc.com/articles/201110/more-and-more-entrepreneurs-meditate-how-and-why-you-should-too.html" target="_blank">according to Inc. Magazine</a>. At<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-gordhamer/bill-ford-on-compassion-i_b_2781129.html" target="_blank"> this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference</a>, Ford was interviewed by leading American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Ford<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soren-gordhamer/bill-ford-on-compassion-i_b_2781129.html" target="_blank"> told Kornfield</a> that during difficult times at the company, he set an intention every morning to go through his day with compassion. And to lead with compassion, Ford said he first learned to develop compassion for himself through a loving-kindness (<em>metta</em>) meditation practice.
Oprah Winfrey, Chairwoman & CEO, Harpo Productions, Inc.
An outspoken advocate of <a href="http://www.tm.org/" target="_blank">Transcendental Meditation</a>, Oprah -- recently <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2013/06/26/oprah-winfrey-regains-no-1-slot-on-forbes-2013-list-of-the-most-powerful-celebrities/" target="_blank">named</a> the most powerful celebrity of 2013 by Forbes -- has said she sits in stillness for 20 minutes, twice a day. She's also brought in TM teachers for employees at Harpo Productions, Inc. who want to learn how to meditate. After a meditation in Iowa last year, <a href="http://www.oprah.com/health/Oprah-on-Stillness-and-Meditation-Oprah-Visits-Fairfield-Iowa#ixzz2XoJNWPAR" target="_blank">Oprah said</a>, "I walked away feeling fuller than when I'd come in. Full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy. Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is -- still -- the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life."
Larry Brilliant, CEO, Skoll Global Threats Fund
Larry Brilliant, CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and former director of Google.org, spent two years during his 20s <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/commencement-2013-larry-brilliants-address/" target="_blank">living in a Himalayan ashram</a> and meditating, until his guru instructed him to join a World Health Organization team working to fight smallpox in New Delhi. In his <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/commencement-2013-larry-brilliants-address/" target="_blank">2013 commencement address</a> at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brilliant emphasized the importance of peace of mind, wishing the graduates lives full of equanimity -- a state of mental calm and composure.
Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group
In a <a href="http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/arianna-huffington-the-connector/#1" target="_blank">2011 <em>Vogue </em>feature</a>, Huffington described early-morning yoga and meditation as two of her "joy triggers." Now, Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2013/06/8530708/her-cooper-square-hq-arianna-huffington-goes-even-bigger-yoga-meditati" target="_blank">weekly classes</a> for AOL and Huffington Post employees. Huffington has spoken out on the benefits of mindfulness not just for individual health, but also for corporate bottom lines. "Stress-reduction and mindfulness don't just make us happier and healthier, they're a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/corporate-wellness_b_2903222.html" target="_blank">she wrote in a recent blog</a>.
Ray Dalio, Founder & Co-CIO, Bridgewater Associates USA
In a 2012 conversation at the John Main Centre for Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Georgetown University, Dalio <a href="http://vimeo.com/50999847" target="_blank">said</a> that meditation has opened his mind and boosted his mental clarity. "Meditation has given me centeredness and creativity," <a href="http://vimeo.com/50999847" target="_blank">said Dalio</a>. "It's also given me peace and health."
Robert Stiller, CEO, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.
There is a dedicated <a href="http://www.gmcr.com/continuous-learning.html" target="_blank">meditation room</a> at the Vermont headquarters of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., and CEO Robert Stiller himself is a devoted practitioner. "If you have a meditation practice, you can be much more effective in a meeting," <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aR2aP.X_Bflw" target="_blank">he told Bloomberg in 2008</a>. "Meditation helps develop your abilities to focus better and to accomplish your tasks."
Russell Simmons, Co-Founder, Def Jam Records; Founder of GlobalGrind.com
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has long practiced Transcendental Meditation, speaking out about the benefits of the practice and sitting on the board of the advisors for the <a href="http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/" target="_blank">David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace</a>. "You don't have to believe in meditation for it to work," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-simmons/why-i-meditate_b_474689.html" target="_blank">Simmons wrote in a Huffington Post blog</a>. "You just have to take the time to do it. The old truth is still true today, 'God helps those who help themselves.' My advice? Meditate."