For [Sesame Street’s] 44th season on the air, Cookie Monster was essentially repurposed into a full-time, walking, talking, googly-eyed vehicle for a set of intensely fashionable ideas about psychology and success. The blue Muppet was now … a “poster child for someone needing to master self-regulation skills.”
For the duration of the new season, Cookie [Monster] lusted after his favorite treat as much as ever. But when it came to acting on his desires, he sang, quite literally, a different tune: “Me want it, but me wait.” In sketch after sketch, song after song, he struggled mightily with self-control, strained to keep his focus on long-term goals, and collected mental strategies to delay gratification.
As the capacity to delay gratification seems more and more like destiny, we are becoming a culture obsessed with self-regulation.
Which lends a kind of overpowering weight to the question: If self-control is so important, how are we supposed to achieve it?”