Some people have this huge misconception that healthy folks who are disciplined are deprived. Eating healthy is viewed as a diet, which we all know sounds so unfun. Keeping to a certain way of eating, while viewed by some as deprivation, is anything but!
The recent Time magazine article highlighted that disciplined people actually were happier and not deprived. The research, which was published in the Journal of Personality, showed that self-control isn’t just about deprivation, but more about managing conflicting goals.
How true this is. When I make a good choice, take that walk, get to the gym, pass up that cookie offered by the Third Son or dessert at lunch, I’m just showing a little self-control in an effort to meet a larger goal. I know that meeting that larger goal will make me much happier, in the long run, than the fleeting taste of the cookie or sitting on the couch when I could be getting some exercise.
That choice of self-control will almost always put me in a better mood.
“Those who showed the greatest self-control reported more good moods and fewer bad ones. But this didn’t appear to linked to being more able to resist temptations — it was because they exposed themselves to fewer situations that might evoke craving in the first place. They were, in essence, setting themselves up to happy.”
I really like this point. Self-control can mean avoiding certain situations to avoid being in a situation that conflicts with your goal. Now don’t get me wrong on this. If you know me, you know I love a slice of key lime pie, a glass of wine, something sweet. I LOVE these things. And I eat and drink these things – just not every day. These are my treats. If I indulged in all this goodness every day it wouldn’t be a treat and I would probably not feel so great either. I wouldn’t want Christmas every day. Then it would not be special; it would not be a treat.
I also try not to set my self up for things that test my self-control. Here is my example – and I’m really putting myself out there admitting this one. I cannot buy those blonde Oreos. I simply cannot have them in my pantry. They call to me with these tiny little voices that hypnotize me into opening the package. Once the package is opened I cannot eat just one. I can eat an entire sleeve in a day. Isn’t that just the grossest thing? I know that the processed ingredients in there are complete crap, but for some reason it is really good tasting crap to me. There – now you know my dirty little secret. In order to avoid being hit by this trigger food, and then feeling like crap after eating those creamy little devils, I just know to keep them out of my kitchen. So, in the article, when Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota says that “People who have good self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness – namely, they avoid problematic desires and conflict”, she was speaking straight to me and the blond Oreos in my world.
But, do I feel deprived not eating the blonde Oreos? No, not really. I know how sluggish I would feel afterwards, how my head would ache and how low my energy would be. When I am off of my normal healthy eating routine and exercising I begin to feel sluggish, grouchy, heavy and slow and I lose a lot of my pep. When I’m feeling all of those things of course I’m not as happy. On the flip side when I’m more disciplined I feel much better about my schedule, my well being and don’t have the “food hangovers” or other hangovers for that matter! I think it’s all about how to balance your day, your week, your meals, and mostly your mindset so you can feel like you are in control but not at all deprived.
In a way, it’s not looking at things like this:
Self-discipline means you set your life up for success.
With self-discipline, you work for yourself. You make decisions based upon your own goals, not any one else’s. Good things will come from good decisions. Good things feel good and do not feel like deprivation. Feeling in control of your health and wellness makes folks happy. I bet it’ll make you feel happy too. Feeling Happy is not deprivation!
What good decisions did you make today? When was the last time you truly felt deprived? What is the hardest thing for you to have control over? Are you a scheduled person or a go with the flow person? Do you feel disciplined or deprived?
Go have some fun!