Saturday, October 25, 2014

Learning Self-Control

From The New York Times:
Mr. Mischel — who is spry, bald and compact — faced his own childhood trials of willpower. He was born to well-off Jewish intellectuals in Vienna. But Germany annexed Austria when he was 8, and he “moved quickly from sitting in the front row in my schoolroom, to the back row, to standing in the back, to no more school.” He watched as his father, a businessman who spoke Esperanto and liked to read in cafes, was dragged from bed and forced to march outside in his pajamas.

His family escaped to Brooklyn, but his parents never regained their former social status. They opened a struggling five-and-dime, and as a teenager Walter got a hernia from carrying stacks of sleeves at a garment factory. One solace was visiting his grandmother, who hummed Yiddish songs and talked about sitzfleisch: the importance of continuing to work, regardless of the obstacles (today we call this “grit”). (Read more.)

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