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Self-Disciplined People Are Happier

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      NHNE Wavemaker News List
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      Thanks to Joseph Dillard for this article.

      ...................

      SELF-DISCIPLINED PEOPLE ARE HAPPIER (AND NOT AS DEPRIVED AS YOU THINK)
      By Maia Szalavitz
      Time
      June 24, 2013

      http://nhne-pulse.org/self-disciplined-people-are-happier/

      http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/24/self-disciplined-people-are-happier-and-not-as-deprived-as-you-think/

      It’s easy to think of the highly self-disciplined as being miserable
      misers or uptight Puritans, but it turns out that exerting self-control
      can make you happier not only in the long run, but also in the moment.

      The research, which was published in the Journal of Personality, showed
      that self-control isn’t just about deprivation, but more about managing
      conflicting goals. Since most people associate highly disciplined folks
      with being more task-oriented -- they’re not likely to be the life of
      the party, for example, or eager to act on a whim -- the scientists
      decided to correlate self-control with people’s happiness, to determine
      if being self-disciplined leaves people feeling less joyful.

      Through a series of tests -- including one that assessed 414 middle-aged
      participants on self-control and asked them about their life
      satisfaction both currently and in the past -- and another that randomly
      queried volunteers on their smartphones about their mood and any desires
      they might be experiencing, the researchers found a strong connection
      between higher levels of self-control and life satisfaction. The authors
      write that “feeling good rather than bad may be a core benefit of having
      good self-control, and being well satisfied with life is an important
      consequence.”

      The smartphone experiment also revealed how self-control may improve
      mood. Those who showed the greatest self-control reported more good
      moods and fewer bad ones. But this didn’t appear to linked to being more
      able to resist temptations -- it was because they exposed themselves to
      fewer situations that might evoke craving in the first place. They were,
      in essence, setting themselves up to happy. “People who have good
      self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness -- namely,
      they avoid problematic desires and conflict,” says the study’s co-author
      Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota.

      That became clear in the study’s last experiment, which investigated how
      self-control affects the way people handle goals that conflict with one
      another. In particular, the researchers were interested in how
      self-disciplined and less-disciplined people differed when it came to
      choosing among “virtues” or “vices” -- like the pleasure of eating a
      sugar cookie vs. the pain of gaining weight. More than 230 participants
      were asked to list three important goal conflicts they experienced
      regularly -- and then to rate how strongly the goals conflicted and how
      frequently they experienced the conflict. They were also queried on how
      they managed to balance the goals.

      The highly self-controlled showed a distinct difference from those with
      less discipline over their lives. They tended to avoid creating
      situations in which their goals would conflict, and reported fewer
      instances of having to choose between short-term pleasure and long-term
      pain. The result? They experienced fewer negative emotions. The authors
      write that “one interpretation of this finding is that people use
      self-control to set up their lives so as to avoid problems.”

      “[It’s a] very interesting study,” says Kristin Smith-Crowe, associate
      professor of management at the University of Utah, who was not connected
      with the research, “The authors address some of the most important
      questions in life: What leads to happiness and how can we achieve a life
      well lived?”

      The answer, it seems, lies in being a good manager. Self-control, for
      one, may not consist so much of being better at resisting temptation,
      but at finding better ways to avoid it. “High self-control does make you
      happy,” the authors conclude.

      So why does exerting more self-discipline seem so dreary? Dieting, for
      example, is all about self-control but isn’t necessarily associated with
      happy thoughts. Part of that may have to do with the effort required to
      bypass or diffuse conflicts created by temptation. “From other research,
      we know that exercising self-control is taxing,” says Smith-Crowe, but
      that may only be a perception, since it results from our tendency to
      focus on the difficulty of exercising discipline rather than the
      benefits that result when we do.

      And self-control doesn’t always mean self-denial: it may mean saving now
      to get a big payoff later. For dieters, it means making choices to avoid
      entering a bakery since you’re more likely to buy a cupcake if you do.
      Granted, self-control isn’t the best route to instant gratification, but
      it may bring something even better: long-term contentment.

      ...................

      David Sunfellow
      Founder & President
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      Published by David Sunfellow
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