Is Self Control Overrated? Examining the Research Behind Self Control
Self control is an important aspect of our lives, from resisting temptations to achieving our goals. We are often told that those who have high self-control are more successful, have better health, and are overall happier. But is self control really the magic solution that will solve all our problems? In this article, we will dive into the research behind self control, its benefits, limitations, and how to make it work for us.
The Benefits of Self Control
Being able to control our impulses and resist temptation is an important skill that can help us achieve our goals. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on eighth-graders and found that self control was more important for academic success than IQ. The students who were able to resist the temptation of receiving $1 immediately and wait a week to receive $2 had better attendance rates and test scores, and were more likely to attend better institutions.
Another study conducted by Duke University followed a group of 1,000 individuals from birth to age 32, and found that those with high self-control had fewer criminal records, higher income, and greater physical and mental health.
These findings suggest that self-control is an essential skill that can help us achieve success in various areas of our lives. However, the key to self control is not simply trying to increase willpower, but finding alternatives that will help us resist temptations.
Alternatives to Willpower
Many of us believe that willpower is the key to self control, but researchers suggest that finding alternatives is a more effective method. For example, if you want to quit smoking, instead of relying solely on willpower, you should satisfy your temptation with something else, like chocolate.
In a study conducted by UC San Francisco, smokers were invited into a lab and were put in a room with baked goods or vegetables. The researchers found that those who resisted the baked goods were more likely to smoke during the break, suggesting that suppressing one form of stress could lead to succumbing to another.
Instead of forcing ourselves to resist temptations, identifying healthier alternatives will help us manage our cravings and achieve our goals.
The Limitations of Self Control
Although self control is an essential skill, its limitations should also be recognized. Self control is not an infinite resource, and trying to tackle multiple goals at once can be overwhelming and result in failure. Research suggests that admitting our limitations and focusing on one goal at a time can be a more effective method.
It is important to prioritize the goals that are most important to us and tackle them one at a time. This not only reduces stress and overwhelm, but also allows us to devote more attention and resources towards achieving our goal.
Self control is a valuable skill that can help us achieve success in various areas of our lives. However, it is important to recognize its limitations and find alternatives to willpower. Prioritizing our goals and tackling them one at a time can be a more effective method and lead to greater success. Ultimately, when used effectively, self control can help us lead happier, healthier, more productive lives.