- Want to eat less at a meal? Wear a tight shirt. Context is huge. Whether the friends eating with you are heavy, whether your waitress is heavy and how close food is to you all make a difference in how much you eat. On the other hand, going hungry will also reduce self-control because a lot of willpower is about sugar. Your mind plays all kinds of tricks on you when it comes to food. Skipping breakfast might lead to murder.
- When we use bigger plates we almost inevitably eat more. When the color of the food contrasts with the color of the plate we almost always eat less. A mirror in the kitchen can help you eat less. The wider a variety of foods at a meal, the more we eat. Dining with friends makes you eat twice as much at restaurants.
- If you don’t want to eat that whole bag of chips or spend all that money, break the amount up into a number of smaller packages.
- Just a little bit of practice every day can increase your willpower. Saying “I’ll never do that again” makes you even more likely to do that again. Just monitoring your behavior can improve it. Penalizing yourself for bad behavior works. Think about the pride you’ll feel in conquering desire, not the shame that follows failure.
- “Precommitment devices” are very powerful. So give a friend $500 and tell them to donate it to the Nazi party if you don’t follow through with your goals.
- Form “if-then” plans. Decide ahead of time how you will respond when willpower is taxed and you’ll be much more likely to default to that.
- We can lose control and overindulge when we think a good mood is fleeting or a bad mood will not go away. By focusing on why good feelings will last or why bad feelings will pass we can prevent poor decisions.
- Know the secrets to achieving your goals, the things that really motivate us, and how to improve yourself. Know the three techniques the Army uses to instill mental toughness as well as the four methods the government used to increase Navy SEAL passing rates.
- Self-discipline is better than IQ at determining who will be successful. Exercising self-control in one area of life tends to improve all areas of life. Focus on greater self-compassion, not greater self-control to increase willpower. Friends that support you can be the key to radically changing your life. There are tricks to breaking bad habits forever.
- Don’t get cocky. Thinking you have great self-control leads to failure. Sometimes little temptations are harder to resist than bigger ones. (Email can be harder to resist than alcohol or cigarettes.)
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
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