Muscle Your Self-Discipline!

Self-control is like a muscle: the more often you engage in it the stronger it gets. That’s what 2 studies have revealed: by engaging in an activity that requires self-control, we become better at controlling ourselves.

In one study, psychologists Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng, evaluated over two months participants who had to stick to a regular exercise plan. After this period, these participants when asked to implement another task involving self-discipline spontaneously showed higher levels of self-control than when they started. Interestingly, the participants also reported successfully implementing positive changes in their daily life like quit smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and improved spending and study habits. The participants also reported experiencing less stress as they engaged in self-control.

Mark Muraven, PhD, led another study at the University of Albany New York. The study asked a group of participants to give up sweets for two weeks. After the two weeks, partcipants performed better on concentration test, which takes self-control.

If you would like to implement ‘tuff’ changes in your life (exercise routine, stop smoking, ..) you can start by strengthening your self-control on easier tasks like watching less tv, taking the stairs 3 times per week, or whatever feels manageable to you. By implementing many little routines, you will soon be ready to tackle the hardest changes you’d like to make.

Source: Experience Life, June 2011