by Javier Munoz
Research by Wilhelm Hofmann, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago, concluded that we spend 25% of the time resisting temptations, and we only succeed 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, we succumb to the tempting pleasures of chocolate or to the lure of television or social media sites. Modern life brings a sea of distractions that we are constantly trying to resist. Your ability to resist them hinges on how you use your will power to exercise self-control. When psychologists isolate the qualities that more accurately predict your success in life, they consistently find that intelligence and self-control are the main ones. Since Roy Baumeister, co-author of Willpower, conducted experiments that uncovered the real existence of will power, it has been found that cultivating it is certainly an effective way to improve your well-being and prosperity.
In the book Willpower, Baumeister and Tierney mention that most social problems, addictions, violence, depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, or poor school or job performance lie in a factor: Lack of self-control. Baumeister determined that lack of self-control is correlated directly with the majority of our traumas: Layoffs, divorce, legal problems, or family conflicts. It is not surprising that the least cited quality by those interviewed in these experiments was self-control, in fact, out of a list of 24 qualities, self-control was the top pick as lacking.
In a well-known research study conducted in 1972 regarding children´s ability to manage immediate gratification, a group of four year old children were presented with one mash-mellow and the option of getting a second one if they resisted the temptation to eat it while waiting alone in a room for 15 minutes. If a child resisted the temptation to eat the first marshmallow, she could have both. Walter Mischel, the researcher who conducted this experiment returned years later to find that children who had resisted the temptation during those long 15 minutes now had significantly more successful lives than those who could not resist.
Similarly, it has been found that employees with greater self-control are highly regarded by their peers and superiors. In fact, such people seem to have a remarkable capacity to nurture healthy constructive relationships with their colleagues. They also have a keen ability to empathize and consider multiple perspectives. Your ability to establish strong connections with other people leads to greater emotional stability with a lower incidence of depression, anxiety, paranoia, conflicts, or other behavioral disorders. Self-control is related to your ability to endure and tolerate differences that may arise, and to calmly visualize the best solution. Over time, control of your impulses allows consistent and predictable behaviors that build trust, and a strong bond between team members.
Your will power and the ability for self-control has a direct impact on the four elements of our Happiness Framework. As such, it is certainly a key fundamental quality to improve our lives.
What actions demonstrate or encourage self-control in your life?