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If You Think Guilt Can Help You Discipline Yourself, You’re Totally Wrong

If You Think Guilt Can Help You Discipline Yourself, You’re Totally Wrong

In an experiment conducted by psychologists Clair Adams and Mark Leary, women who were watching their weight were encouraged to eat doughnuts and candy. The aim of the experiment was to find out if people will indulge less if they do not feel guilty about it.

The experiment

The dieting women were divided into two groups. One group was encouraged to feel better about breaking their diets, while the other group were left to feel guilty about it. At the end of the experiment, the psychologists would determine which group ate the most candy.

The women were told that they would be participating in two distinct studies. The first study would look at the effects of the food on a person’s mood. The second study would be a taste test.

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In the first study, each woman was directed to select either a chocolate or glazed doughnut and to finish it within a four-minute time frame. They were then told to drink a full glass of water. The aim was to make the women feel guilty and overly full.

After the first study, the group that was encouraged to feel better about breaking their diet were given the following message: “Sometimes, participants feel guilty about eating a whole doughnut, but you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself about it. Remember that everyone indulges sometimes.” This message was intended to help these women get rid of some of their guilt. The second group did not receive any message.

Both groups were then given candy and told to sample each candy and rate it. They were told to eat as much candy as they like so that they could achieve an accurate rating.

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The results

The remaining candy was weighed by the researchers.

The women who were given the message to feel less guilty about having eaten the doughnut ate approximately 28 grams of the candy. Comparatively, the women who were allowed to feel guilty ate almost 70 grams.

The researchers concluded from these results that feeling guilty leads to indulging more.

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Let us take a look at some examples of scenarios that may leave you feeling guilty and see why these guilty feelings may lead to overindulging in unwanted behavior.

Drinking too much

You may find that lately you have been drinking too much alcohol. Your efforts to reduce the amount you are drinking are not working and you are left feeling guilty about it. The guiltier you feel, the more you drink. It becomes a vicious circle.

Procrastinating when there is work to be done

You have a lot of work to do but all you are doing is procrastinating. You feel guilty about procrastinating and hence you continue to put off your work. The guiltier you feel, the less work you find yourself doing.

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Spending too much money on jewellery or clothing

You may be splurging on jewellery and clothing, buying yourself something new every time you walk into a shop. The money you are spending seems to be adding up, but the more remorseful you feel about it, the more you find yourself buying and buying.

Gambling too much

You have been gambling a lot lately. All the money you have in your savings seems to be going to waste. The more you gamble, the worse you feel about it. You are guilty and you don’t know what to do. However, it seems that the guiltier you feel, the more you gamble.

Smoking too much

You may be a heavy smoker. You have tried several times to quite but without success. You feel very guilty every time you smoke a cigarette, but this only leaves you craving the next cigarette even more. The more remorse you feel about smoking, the more you smoke.

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

1. They Manage Their Expectations

They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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4. They’re Not Materialistic

There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

5. They Don’t Dwell

They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

6. They Care About Themselves First

They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

7. They Enjoy the Little Things

They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

8. They Can Adapt

They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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9. They Experiment

They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

10. They Take Their Time

They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

11. They Employ Different Perspectives

They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

12. They Seek to Learn

Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

13. They Always Have a Plan

They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

14. They Give Respect to Get It

They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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15. They Consider Every Opportunity

They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

16. They Always Seek to Improve

Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

18. They Live in the Moment

They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

19. They Say Yes

Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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20. They’re Self-Aware

Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

Final Thoughts

The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

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Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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