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Self-Control as the Path to Happiness

Self-Control as the Path to Happiness

If you ever frequent one of those all-you-can-eat houses of food worship, where balancing chicken wings, potato salad, and chocolate muffins on a 9-inch plate serves as a means of personal achievement, then you have undoubtedly witnessed the speedy path from desire to satiety to remorse. Exit interviews at such places would probably reveal a lot of regrets, even coming from the most ardent customers, along with a fair amount of gastrointestinal stress. These are people who enjoy a certain level of indulgence for the brief time in which they are indulging and exhibiting little self-control, and then are immediately deposited into a place of rue and shame.

This kind of thing happens all of the time, and not just with food, but with just about anything from sex to shopping, and while some people believe that people who have a carpe diem attitude and take what they want when they want it are actually the happier people in this world, evidence shows that those with more of a resolute manner of self-control are actually happier. A new 400-person study from the University of Chicago reveals that the more self-control people reported having, the more satisfied they reported being with their lives. And contrary to what the University of Chicago researchers anticipated, people with more self-control were also more likely to be happy in the short-term. In fact, when they further analyzed the data, they found that such people’s increased happiness to a large extent accounted for the increased life satisfaction. You could look at it this way; people exhibiting a lot of self-control (maybe people who don’t even go for the all-you-can-eat option) appear to be happier in day-to-day life, as well as throughout their lives.

How does such information sit with you? Do you find yourself as someone with a developed sense of self-control, or do you jump at any doughnut or cocktail put before you? Do you think people with self-control are happier than those who don’t have it, or do they just assume they are better than everyone else?

4 Ways to Practice Self-Control

Read more: Blogs, Depression, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, General Health, Health, Mental Wellness, ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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12:20AM PST on Nov 3, 2014

Thank you!

7:37PM PDT on Aug 19, 2013


10:45PM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

I usually listen to what my stomach is telling me so that I don't go overboard. It helps to be in tune with your body.

4:51AM PDT on Aug 3, 2013


3:04PM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

I have some.... self control, I just know what I want and when I want it. I do the when in doubt do nothing thing and I have done the wait and see it you really want it or because cravings I suppose are not suppose to last. I also asked myself when shopping do I really need it. hummm if you gotta have it you gotta have it!!! I like the line in a Sheryl Crow song "It"s not getting what you want" " It's wanting what you got." So true in the long run :)

4:14PM PDT on Jul 24, 2013


9:11AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Thanks for a great article
I have great self control but that sure doesn't mean I think I'm better than anyone else.
I was raised that everyone is equal in the eye's of God. I believe that and raised my kids with that belief too.

7:58AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

thank you

7:49AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Self-Control is a Spiritual Discipline. The Ego says: "There is NOT Enough and I NEED that, now. Why should I deprive MY-Self?" But the Spirit, the "little Voice inside" says: "Self Control is Moderation and the understanding that there is Enough: Love, Food, Hope, Joy, etc".
As I have incorporated these beliefs into my conscious and subconscious Behavior over the last Decade I am much, much, much Lighter and Happier and I will say with assurance that I am reasonably Happy most of the Time.

5:20AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Oh Homer, gotta love him ;) Anyway, I have self-control most of the times, but sometimes when the BAD CRAVINGS comes- I eat and eat and eat until i cant move, stupid PMS ;)
Thanks for the article!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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