The secret to self-control


Ever wonder why some people are able to resist tasty temptations better than others? Is it pure discipline? Strength of will? Genetics? Maybe partially, but get this:

Self control is largely the ability to self-distract.

Research from Stanford suggests that a person’s ability to refrain from eating something tasty largely depends on whether they are able to distract themselves with a different activity.

Whoa! Think about that for a minute. Could it really be that simple?

Apparently! In their studies, they had youngsters sit in a room with a tempting treat (a marshmallow). The kids were told that if they could resist the marshmallow, they would get MORE treats later on. About 1/3 of the kids were able to resist the temptation, and it was almost always because they would do things to distract themselves–sing, jump around, use the marshmallow as a toy car, etc. Those kids that just sat there almost always caved in. Interestingly, the kids that could distract themselves in the face of temptation also went on to have higher grades, better jobs, better health and other rewards that require delaying gratification.

If you struggle with eating bad foods or eating too much, then give this a try: Instead of focusing on NOT eating, focus ON doing something else…anything else!

Let me know how it goes!

And if you want to read a much more detailed article, see “Don’t! The Secret of Self-Control” in the May 18th New Yorker magazine.

Have a good week!


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