Is self control overrated?
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or wake up earlier, we’ll share with you the research behind self control.
You don’t need extremely high IQ to be successful, you need self-control.
Before we talk about the limitations of self control, we should first understand the benefits of controlling oneself.
Throughout our lives, there will be countless list of bad habits that we’ll need to overcome. For some of us, it could be quitting junk food. For others, it could be avoiding procrastination when you’re trying to learn a new skill. Here’s what research has found.
Researchers from University of Pennsylvania explored self-control in eighth-graders over the course of the school year. They gave students a task in which they had the option of receiving $1 immediately or waiting a week to receive $2.
What they found was interesting.
Students who decided to wait a week to receive $2 also had better attendance rates, test scores, and were more likely to attend better institutions. In other words, self control, was more important than IQ in academic success.
Another study was done by Duke University with a group of 1,000 individuals.  These individuals were were tracked from birth to age 32 as part of a long-term health study. They found that those with high self-control had fewer criminal records, higher income, and overall had greater physical and mental health.
Self control is not about forcing yourself.
The key to self control, researchers found, is not trying to increase willpower, but finding alternatives. What do we mean by this?
Say you want to quit smoking. Instead of figuring out all the possible ways on how to break this bad habit, you should satisfy your temptation with… chocolate for example.
Researchers from UC San Francisco invited smokers into their test labs, and half were put in a room full of baked goods, while the other half got vegetables.
After awhile, they were asked to step outside for a break. When they returned, they found that those who resisted the baked goods were more likely to smoke during the break.
Self-control is limited. Try stick to one goal at a time.
What could explain this?
The theory is that self control is indeed limited. Those that resisted the baked goods were in a form of ‘stress.’ And by resisting one form of a stress, they were much more likely to succumb to another craving.
The bottom line is, instead of trying to simply increase self control, admit that it’s limited. Rather than trying to kick two bad habits at once, figure out what’s more important and tackle it one at a time.
|||^||Guardian: Why willpower gets weaker the more you exercise it|