How can you resist the temptation to drink a good glass of wine, eat a piece of cake or skip the gym and go to the cinema instead?
“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it” said Oscar Wilde.
Diet, sport, sleeping enough are fine, but sometimes indulging in the breach of the rule helps your psycho-physical well-being and eases the performance anxiety that often accompanies a healthy lifestyle.
However, in addition to giving in to temptations, we can learn to control them.
Have you ever heard of the “Marshmallow test“?
The “Marshmallow test” is a curious experiment, carried out by Professor Walter Mischel in the sixties at Stanford University.
A child is left alone in a room in front of a Marshmallow: they can choose whether to eat it immediately or wait 15 minutes and get two as a reward. Some children will know how to wait; others, unable to resist, will throw themselves on that inviting sugar candy.
The professor compared throughout the years the self-control skills shown by children with the successes achieved in their adult age and found out that those who did not eat the marshmallow achieved more goals in life.
Is self-control therefore the secret of success? Is it postponing rewards really more likely to bring success in life?
The Mischel experiment actually explains how self-control is fundamental in studying, in sport, at work and in many other circumstances of your life.
Self-control means knowing how to make decisions in the right time and in the right place to improve your skills to not yield to the temptation of a marshmallow.
People who are best at mastering their decision-making are generally people who are better off. They eat well, play sports, get enough sleep. These people structure their lives around good habits and build routines that are easy to follow.
Good news are that you can learn new habits.
Eating a piece of pie is not a moral failure, even if you have decided to go on a diet. Giving up on the piece of cake may cause you more stress and therefore cause you more harm than eating it. The trick is rather to avoid buying a cake or passing in front of a cake! But don’t feel guilty if you eat a slice. Don’t forget that an excess of willpower can also be more harmful because, as mentioned before, it can cause additional stress.
Self-control depends on your choices and it is your responsibility. Stress has become a personal burden, which you are called to manage alone with the help of techniques, like meditation, coaching, yoga.
Remember that it is important to recognize your own limits because it makes you become aware of the fact that you cannot be perfect and control everything.