We often think that those with self-discipline are unhappy and miserable, but a new study shows that those who have self-control might actually be happier than those of us who do not. And the best part is that this happiness is both long lasting and instant.
According to the study published in the Journal of Personality, self-discipline isn’t only about depriving one-self. It actually has more to do with managing goals, even when they conflict. Many people see people that have a lot of discipline as people that are task-oriented. They might not be spontaneous or overly exciting to most of us, but scientists wanted to see the connection between a person’s level of self control, and their happiness, to find out if being self-disciplined makes people feel down.
Participants did a series of tests, to determine the effect that having self-control had on their happiness. One test asked 414 participants that were middle aged about their self-control levels and how satisfied with their lives they were. Another test worked with volunteers smartphones, to find out about the desires they feel, and their overall mood. Researchers discovered that there was a deep connection between satisfaction in one’s life and high levels of self-control. According to the authors of the study, the biggest benefit of showing self-control might actually cause people to feel happy rather than remorseful, and it might also help with feelings of satisfied in life.
The part of the study that involved smartphones helped to show the way that good self-control can help to boost the mood. Those that showed themselves to have the highest levels of self control also reported that they were in a pleasant mood more often. It didn’t just have to do with being able to resist a temptation; it had more to do with the fact that they didn’t put themselves in “craving” situations.
Essentially, the study found that those with great self control are actually “setting themselves up to be happy.”
The long and the short of the study: those with more self-control tended to expose themselves to negative factors less often, which helped to set them up to achieve their goals. In the case of dieting, this allowed people to have fewer problems with goals conflicting with their desire for short term pleasure. This allowed for greater happiness and satisfaction.
It seems that self control itself isn’t the happiness factor, so much as the way that people with better self-discipline tend to set themselves up to accomplish those goals in the first place. It isn’t always to do with a diet; often self discipline has to do with saving money to make that big purchase, quitting smoking, and more.
The next time you’re faced with a challenge, why not try to show some self-discipline and see if it makes you feel happier?