Aeon's sister site Psyche has – unsurprisingly – proven to be pretty great.
The article deals with what self control actually is (at least from some viewpoint) and how it can be conceptualized. And, I mean, who doesn't have self control problems sometimes? Some of us more than others, but at least personally I found the article actually pretty helpful in addition to being interesting.
- ake the findings from a 2017 study that involved volunteers recording their daily experiences of temptation for a week. The individuals who experienced more temptation were less likely to achieve their long-term goals, even if they also reported using more inhibitory self-control. This suggests that using inhibitory self-control to resist those cookies might help you in the moment, but not in the long run. So even if you use inhibitory training (eg, the teeth-brushing challenge) to build a brawny self-control muscle, your heroic efforts are likely to leave you looking more like Sisyphus than Hercules.
Research in my own lab and others suggests that, if you want to improve your self-control, what you should do instead is focus on proactively reducing, rather than reactively overpowering temptation. Fortunately, there are several ways and opportunities to do this.