Why Self-Control Makes You Happy

Know that guy who wakes up early to hit the gym every morning, sometimes skips lunch to work, and doesn’t make a point of tying one on with the boys every other night? He’s probably way happier than you.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality, people with self-discipline are happier than those without, mainly because they set themselves up to avoid temptation. Researchers had 230 people list three important goal conflicts they experienced regularly—for example, working towards a promotion versus spending more time with the kids. They then rated how strongly the goals conflicted, how often they experienced said conflict, and told how they balanced the goals.

Self-disciplined people, it turns out, are far less likely to create situations where their goals conflict, and as a result, they are happier. Essentially, self-disciplined people don’t put themselves in a situation where they are constantly having to choose between two goals. Instead, they eliminate temptation: they don’t keep pop in the house if they’re trying to lose weight, they don’t keep their smartphone on if they’re trying to disconnect from work past five, and they avoid Cheryl in accounting if they’re trying to be more polite.

In short, self-disciplined aren’t better at dealing with problems—they’re better at avoiding them. And that makes them happy.

Photo courtesy of Ben Clement.

This is a test