Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Take the Jelly Bean Test

What kind of person are you?

When you’re eating jelly beans, do you start with your favorites and gobble them first before moving on to your less-liked flavors? Or do you start with the ones that are just okay and save the really delicious ones for the end – for the dessert?

There are lessons to be learned from understanding what kind of person you are. No judgment, no shame – just self-knowledge, so you can better prepare for what’s to come.

If you delve into your favorites first, you’re probably more passionate, more of a sensualist, more inclined to leap into the unknown to see what it has to offer. You may experience more difficulty in delaying gratification and controlling your impulses. Or you may not trust that the truly excellent jelly beans will still be there when you want them. You may fear that someone else will eat the best ones or that the jelly beans will get hard and be less delicious if you wait. Or, finally, you may decide that the joy you get from a few exceptional jelly beans now will be more satisfying than the pleasure you’ll experience later if you wait to consume them.

On the other hand, if you hold off on eating your favorites, you’re probably more cautious, more logical and better at controlling impulsive behavior. You think things through before jumping into new situations. Or you may simply trust that the phenomenal jelly beans will still be there, that no one will come along and eat them before you get the chance, and that they won’t harden into unappealing rocks. Or, finally, you may decide that you’ll get enough pleasure from the good jelly beans now that you can afford to wait for the fabulous jelly beans later.

How does this translate to life?

We know we should save for retirement, for example. We should set aside some portion of our income to benefit us in the future, perhaps decades down the road. We don’t all have that luxury, of course. Some of us live paycheck to paycheck – but assume that you make enough to cover your basic necessities and then some. Do you set aside money for that time in your life?

Many of us don’t.

Is it because we can’t control ourselves? Because we see something we want and decide to buy it even though we know the happiness we derive from it will likely be fleeting? Do we live for the present and let the future look after itself? Do we say, “Since I don’t know if I’ll even be alive when I’m 80, I don’t want to deprive myself now”?

The future will always be unknown. Some of us will plan for it; some of us won’t. Many of us who plan for it will have those plans thrown in our faces by life or God or the fates or unforeseen obstacles.

But here’s the certain thing: the future is coming like a freight train. We can’t get out of the way without leaving the tracks of life. And that’s not a very appealing option for most.

So enjoy the present – to a point. Savor the NOW while you can. But remember too that it might behoove you to leave at least a few of the delicious jelly beans for later. Your older self will thank you.

What about me? How do I rate?

I always save some of my favorite (green & yellow) jelly beans for the end, but I eat a few along the way. You can’t live only for tomorrow.

Take the jelly bean test yourself. How did you do?


book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

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