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The Science of Developing Self-Control in Life - Darius Foroux

Self Control and Eating Healthy

While it’s obvious we need to exhibit a certain amount of self-control while choosing what we put in our bodies, that is not the whole story.

If we educate our bodies and learn about nutrition, longevity and how our individual bodies function, we could be eating a lot healthier.

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The Science of Developing Self-Control in Life - Darius Foroux

The Science of Developing Self-Control in Life - Darius Foroux

https://dariusforoux.com/self-control/

dariusforoux.com

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Key Ideas

Self-Control Components

Self-control has two components:

  • Our ability to resist temptations
  • Our ability to exercise control over our behaviour and emotions.

Self-control plays a key role in our lives, keeping us sane and alive, as we don’t give in to things that may be harmful now or in the future. It involves resilience, tolerance, patience, time and effort investment and deliberate practice.

Self Control and Eating Healthy

While it’s obvious we need to exhibit a certain amount of self-control while choosing what we put in our bodies, that is not the whole story.

If we educate our bodies and learn about nutrition, longevity and how our individual bodies function, we could be eating a lot healthier.

The Pleasures Of Life

There is a lot of stuff available for us to do that makes us feel better instantly. Watching TV, going to the beach, drinking alcohol, smoking, and almost every other activity that seems pleasurable to us, giving us temporary pleasure in a jiffy. When we keep doing that, the long term effects are bad, and we feel older, weaker, sicker, while not having any achievement in our lives.

This is a natural process of a slow movement towards disorder, is also the second law of thermodynamics, called Entropy.

Moving Away From Disorder

If we do not rest, recover, rebuild, adapt, and restore ourselves using self-control, the natural law of entropy (things and systems naturally move towards disorder) takes over our lives and we start to deteriorate.

This deterioration is so slow that it is unnoticeable. We need to invest in ourselves on a daily basis, even if we are not able to see any improvement.

Purpose and Self-Control

We need to have a singular drive or pursuit that motivates us in our every breath. Shallow pursuits like some materialistic desires cannot make us demonstrate self-control for long.

If we are completely committed to a high pursuit, it won’t be difficult to exercise self-control.

About Systems

A system is a set of habits, behaviours and productivity hacks that help us stay consistent and productive. One has to practice self-control by picking a direction and sticking with it, making our long-term goals our focus.

Example: If the long-term goal is being a public speaker, the system can be, taking classes, training people, reading and exercising on a daily basis, using self-control to stay on track.

Take No Stress

If we look into our daily routine, we will find that a lot is being done by us just to minimize and manage our stress. We wind up our ‘springs’ so much by our commitments and work pressure that we have to unwind by taking vacations and buying stuff.

Another way is to not let that much stress creep into you in the first place. As a moderate amount of stress is good for you, you can practice self-control and design your life the way it does not accumulate that much stress. It’s better than coping up with stress.

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Strategies for self-control
  • Meditate.
  • Eat. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses.
  • Exercise releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses.
  • Sleep. When you are tired, your brain cells’ ability to absorb glucose is highly diminished.
  • Ride the Wave. Desire has a strong tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. Waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control.
  • Forgive Yourself when you slip up. Focus on what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.
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Holding Yourself Accountable

Make yourself accountable for what you do or don’t do. You don’t have to do things to prove something to others.

Make a To-Do list with your goals, intentions and proposed actions, and try to stick to it.

Being Honest

If we are not honest in our communication due to any internal fear, we are not taken seriously. People can tell when we are not honest.

There is no need to hide anything or play the victim card. Honesty seems difficult as it requires humility, but if followed, it is easier to be self-disciplined.

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Focus

The right frame of mind, and thinking about positive things to happen goes a long way to improving your life. Focus on what you want.

Act on it

You can't just think good thoughts and assume your life will be better. 

We can't just think something. We need to act on it. 

Showing initiative

Be an originator of the action, of new ideas and be the first to start something new.

Set an example. No matter what it is, be the first one who does something.

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Curiosity: The Key To a Happy Life
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The Enemy of Curiosity: Busyness

If one is too busy, the gates of curiosity, wonder and serendipity become forever closed. We have to take time out to do something new, exploring life, and what all it has to offer.

Our desk job followed by our home responsibilities will rob us of a good life if we are too busy to be curious.

Curiosity Keeps Life Novel

Life is about the new, and curiosity keeps life novel. Doing new things, learning new stuff and innovating in your field of interest.

Doing things that you are curious about will make your life full of joy, giving you a long, satisfying life experience.

Mental Toughness Traits
Mental Toughness Traits

Professional athletes have five common traits, which make them mentally tough:

  1. Ego strength
  2. Level-headedness
  3. Stress tolerance
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Ego Strength

Ego, generally considered an enemy, surprisingly can also be defined as a measure to handle setbacks, criticism and rejection.

When our ego-strength is embraced and utilized positively, we genuinely believe in ourselves no matter what the circumstances. No rejection, loss or failure can destroy our will to keep going.

Level-Headedness

Mental toughness is about keeping calm and level-headed while in situations that can make one emotional or make one’s heart pound.

It is almost like a superpower if you are composed and ‘cool’ instead of giving a knee-jerk, emotional reaction.

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People With High Hopes

People with high hope have a good number of difficult, challenging goals, and a good scorecard of achievement.

They have lower rates of anxiety and depression and greater happiness. They cope well with problems that consume the rest of the world.

Hope = Goals + Agency + Pathways

Instead of wishful thinking, we need to know what we want (specific goals), and have the drive and passion to go towards it (agency) and should be able to generate methods and devices to achieve what we want (pathways).

When we do a sum total of these three, we get hope: Hope= Goals + Agency + Pathways

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Behavioral Activation Therapy - BAT

The idea behind BAT is that we have to do happy to feel happy. Instead of our mood changing what we do, we need to change what we do to fix our mood. The first principle of BAT is to change what you do. Engage in the right activities and positive feelings will follow.

We can't wait until we feel better before we act. Emotions perpetuate themselves. We have to move now and break the cycle of our feelings. This is how we grab hold of happiness.

The Balance Between Leisure And Mistery
  • Pleasure is vital, but we want the kind that will last and not leave you even more stressed than before you started. We're looking for a deeper satisfaction that comes from truly meaningful activities like relationships, exercise, and reading.
  • Mastery can be thought of as a feeling of accomplishment. Progress in goals that are meaningful to you, whether it pays the bills or not.

Create a balance between leisure activities and mastery.

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Self-Control

Our logic is paired with emotion, and sometimes our emotions motivate us to make poor decisions. That's where self-control comes in.

Self-Control is difficult to produce

The main reason is that indulgence is much easier than the alternative. 

Self-control requires work. It's easier to focus on work that provides temporary satisfaction.

Boost your willpower
  • The simplest way to get better at anything is to practice. As a weekly exercise, pick something you do in excess and stop for a week. After you've practiced for several weeks, try for longer.
  •  Find Adequate Distractions as a method of self-control.
  • Take Care of Yourself so that you do not deplete your reserves.
  • Make it harder to make the wrong choice. 
  • Introduce Fear. It's easier to adjust your diet or kick a habit if you truly believe it's going to kill you or cause immediate harm.
Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control
  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 
Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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