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Self-control: Your key to success

What do you think determines your success at work, in school, or in life? Your intelligence, your talents and skills? In fact, what is often neglected is your ability to control yourself: your discipline, your patience, your self-control – basically anything that will make you resist temptations in the now for a bigger reward in the future.

An analysis conducted by Matthias Sutter, professor of economic research in Innsbruck, Austria, shows that self-control is far more significant for our personal success in life than intelligence and talent.

The marshmallow experiment

Professor Sutter based his analysis on a study that was carried out in the 1960’s, which is commonly known as the marshmallow experiment. In this study, a group of children were each given a marshmallow. They were told that they could either eat the marshmallow immediately or wait until they would get a second one later. They would only receive a second one if they didn’t eat the first one beforehand.

As expected, many children found it difficult to wait for the second marshmallow and ate the first one instantly. However, a lot of them managed to resist temptation and wait.

In the following years, the researchers tracked the development of the same children and found that 20 years later, the ones that had been able to resist the marshmallow temptation had on average better grades, were slimmer, took less drugs, and had obtained a university degree more often than the ones who had not been able to restrain themselves.

The Ulysses inside of us

Your ability to control yourself largely depends on techniques you use in situations where your self-control is tested. For example, in the marshmallow experiment, some children forced themselves not to look at the marshmallow as they knew that looking at it would increase the desire to eat it.

Over 2,000 years ago, a wise man named Ulysses wasn’t a stranger to these techniques either: he had himself tied up to the mast of his ship and block the ears of his men with wax, knowing that no one could resist the tempting song of the Sirens, who lured passing sailors to their deaths with their seductive singing. This way he was able to longingly listen to their song without giving into the temptation of going near them and risking to capsize his ship.

Improve your self-control

The psychologist Roy Baumeister and his team of researchers wanted to find out, whether we are able to train and improve our self-control. Participants of the study were divided into two groups, with one group receiving a two-week self-control training, and the other being the control group.

The results showed that training indeed successfully increased the participants’ ability to resist temptations and fight impulses. In a similar study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers discovered that self-control training led to a lower consumption of alcohol.

Strengthen your self-control with NeuroNation

Here the good news: We at NeuroNation have developed exercises that are designed to train your self-control. One way to do so is to fight your dominant behavioral patterns you automatically execute whenever your impulse tells you to.

Not looking at your phone while in a boring lecture or not smoking the cigarette you’re used to after dinner are examples of fighting dominant behavioral patterns. NeuroNation exercises specifically target your ability to resist your dominant behavioral patterns and impulses.

NeuroNation – developed with the help of science

It is up to you: Experience for yourself how increased self-control can benefit your life, your health, and your personal success. Our NeuroNation Premium exercises offer you an ideal opportunity to strengthen your self-control and to show temptation who is the boss. Join more than 18 million of our users and start training your self-control abilities now.

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1: Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M., De Wall, C. N., & Oaten, M. (2006). Self-Regulation and Personality: How Interventions Increase Regulatory Success, and How Depletion Moderates the Effects of Traits on Behavior. Journal of Personality, 74(6), 1773-1802.

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