You can gain greater self-control in all situations by using these expert tips and advice backed by scientific research.


Of all the things that are in short supply in our lives, self-control likely tops the list for most of us. When people were asked to list their character strengths in a study conducted in 54 nations and the 50 U.S. states, self-control came last. Self-control is the ability to control our feelings, emotions and reactions. A recent public example of a lapse in self-control comes from Tim Armstrong, the chief executive officer of AOL, who had to apologize for publicly firing an employee. "It was an emotional response," Armstrong said in his apology.

在我们生活中所有缺少的东西中,自我控制可能是我们大多数人最需要的。在美国50个州和54个国家进行的一项研究中,当人们被要求列出自己的性格优势时,自控力排在最后。自我控制是控制我们的感觉、情绪和反应的能力。美国在线(AOL)首席执行官蒂姆•阿姆斯特朗(Tim Armstrong)最近在公开场合失去了自制力,他不得不为公开解雇一名员工而道歉。阿姆斯特朗在道歉时说: “这是一种情绪化的回应。”。

More scientists are discovering the importance of self-control as a force we can tap into to have a more successful and satisfying life. But self-control is a limited resource that is depleted with use. When we exercise control in one situation, we’re less likely to keep our cool the next time we’re faced with a situation that requires self-control. As Kelly McGonigal notes in The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do to Get More of It, "Trying to control your temper, stick to a budget or refuse seconds all tap into the same source of strength. And because every act of willpower depletes willpower, using self control can lead to losing self-control ... if you do turn down that tempting tiramisu, you may find it more difficult to focus when you're back at your desk."

越来越多的科学家发现了自我控制的重要性,它是一种我们可以利用的力量,让我们拥有一个更成功、更满意的生活。但是自我控制是一种有限的资源,它会随着使用而耗尽。当我们在一种情况下进行控制时,我们就不太可能在下一次面对需要自我控制的情况时保持冷静。正如凯利 · 麦戈尼格尔在《意志力本能: 自我控制是如何起作用的,为什么它很重要,以及我们可以做什么来获得更多》一书中所指出的,“试着控制你的脾气,坚持预算或拒绝分秒必争,所有这些都使用相同的力量。因为每一次执行意志力的行为都会消耗意志力,所以使用自我控制可能会导致失去自我控制... ... 如果你真的拒绝了那个诱人的提拉米苏,你可能会发现当你回到办公桌前时,你会更难集中注意力。”

Luckily, there's a lot we can do to mitigate willpower depletion and enhance our ability to exercise self-control, including the following eight tips.


Look at the big picture.


A study shows that abstract and global or high-level thinking promotes self-control success. That is, people are more likely to exercise self-control when they see the proverbial forest beyond the trees and when they don't get bogged down by specific minutiae.


For example, when working on a long-term project, it's easy to get frustrated by the multitude of small steps required to get you there. Instead, periodically reminding yourself and others on the team of the end goal serves to promote self-control by preventing discouragement.


Know the perils of inadequate sleep.


A University of Washington study, reported in Harvard Business Review, indicates that sleep deprivation drains glucose in the prefrontal cortex, thereby depleting the fuel needed for self-control. Sleep restores it. This was found to make a difference at work the next day between ethical and unethical behavior, such as cheating by falsifying receipts. Those who slept six hours or less were more likely to engage in deviant work behaviors than those who slept more than six hours.


The implications for those running a business are too important to ignore. "Organizations," says the lead researcher Christopher M. Barnes, "need to give sleep more respect. Executives and managers should keep in mind that the more they push employees to work late, come to the office early, and answer emails and calls at all hours, the more they invite unethical behavior to creep in." Are you driving your people too hard? Do you encourage team members to prioritize sleep in their lives? Do you set a good example yourself? Tired workers are not good for business.

对于那些经营企业的人来说,这些影响太重要了,不容忽视。“组织,”首席研究员克里斯托弗 · m · 巴恩斯说,“需要给予睡眠更多的尊重。高管和经理们应该记住,他们越是督促员工加班、早到办公室、随时回复电子邮件和电话,就越容易引发不道德的行为。”你是不是把你的人逼得太紧了?你是否鼓励团队成员在生活中优先考虑睡眠?你自己树立了一个好榜样吗?疲劳的员工对企业不利。

Relax already.


Popular views of self-control are that we should try to control impulses, fight temptations and actively exercise willpower. Nothing could be further from the truth, it seems. A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois found that people primed with words suggesting action, such as "start," or "get on with it," were more likely than others to make impulsive decisions that undermine their long-term goals. In contrast, those primed to “rest” or “stop” found it easier to avoid impulsive decisions. “Our research," says Dr. Dolores Albarracín, "suggests that the relaxed state is better at inhibiting the pull of temptations.” This may very well have some impact in how we manage people. Pushing them to "move on" may result in more risky behavior or impulsive decisions.

关于自我控制的流行观点认为,我们应该努力控制冲动,抵制诱惑,积极锻炼意志力。似乎没有什么比这更离谱的了。伊利诺伊大学厄巴纳-香槟分校的研究人员的一项新研究发现,被暗示行动的词语如“开始”或“继续下去”引导的人比其他人更容易做出冲动的决定,从而破坏他们的长期目标。相比之下,那些倾向于“休息”或“停止”的人发现更容易避免冲动的决定。“我们的研究,” Dolores Albarracín 博士说,“表明放松的状态更有利于抑制诱惑。”这很可能会对我们管理人员的方式产生一些影响。迫使他们“继续前进”可能会导致更多的冒险行为或冲动决定。

Do some short bouts of exercise.


Do you find yourself with limited time to undertake a full exercise program? The good news is that, when it comes to self-control, short bouts of moderately intense exercise is all you need to boost your strength in this area. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for self-control, and research reported in Science Daily shows that short bouts of exercise result in increased blood and oxygen flow to the pre-frontal cortex, which may explain the boost in self-control ability. No matter how busy you are, plan to include a short burst of exercise in your daily routine.


Get digital self-control support.


There is a plethora of apps that can help you exercise self-control, even apps that can help you exhibit control when you're online. There are many other ways to help you outsource your self control: a self-blackmailing service to help keep you from quitting—whether it's writing a blog or losing weight; that keeps you committed to any goal; GymPact to ensure you never miss another workout, as well as other similar apps to track your workouts; and or Expense Manager to keep track of your spending and help you make better money decisions.

有太多的应用程序可以帮助你锻炼自我控制能力,甚至有些应用程序可以帮助你在上网时展示控制能力。还有许多其他的方法可以帮助你自我控制: 一个自我勒索服务来帮助你不要放弃ーー不管是写博客还是减肥; 让你坚持任何目标; GymPact 确保你不会错过每一个锻炼,以及其他类似的应用程序来跟踪你的锻炼; 或者费用管理器可以跟踪你的支出,帮助你做出更好的金钱决策。

Know yourself.


Emotional self-control, or impulse control, are cornerstones of emotional intelligence. Know yourself so you can manage your emotions and impulses. For example, are you in the habit of reacting hastily to issues? Once you get started, do you find it hard to stop talking? Are you able to stay composed and positive in stressful circumstances? Can you exercise patience in annoying situations? The ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check is the mark of a seasoned leader.


Avoid decision fatigue.


Self-control has important implications in the quality of our decisions. Roy F. Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength, notes that after people have made a number of decisions, no matter how small, they've used up their willpower, and their self-control is compromised. Decision fatigue has a negative impact on our decisions. For example, some people react by preferring not to make a decision at all; others may make impulsive decisions or decisions that are more subject to irrational bias. Avoid making decisions about important matters at the end of the day, when you have already made a multitude of decisions as we all do during the normal course of a day. One study, for example, shows that some judges in court have been known to make poorer decisions at the end of the day.

自我控制对我们决策的质量有着重要的影响。罗伊 · f · 鲍迈斯特是《意志力: 重新发现人类最伟大的力量》一书的作者,他指出,在人们做出了一系列决定之后,不管这些决定多么微不足道,他们已经耗尽了自己的意志力,他们的自制力也受到了损害。决策疲劳对我们的决策有负面影响。例如,一些人的反应是倾向于根本不做决定; 其他人可能做出冲动的决定或者是更容易受到非理性偏见影响的决定。避免在一天结束的时候对重要的事情做决定,因为你已经做了很多决定,就像我们在一天的正常过程中所做的那样。例如,一项研究表明,众所周知,法庭上的一些法官在一天结束时会做出糟糕的判决。

Put some aspect of your life on default mode so you don't have to make too many unnecessary decisions. Steve Jobs, for example, always dressed in 501 jeans and black turtlenecks. President Obama wears only blue or grey suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions,” he told Vanity Fair. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make ... You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia." Take an inspiration from this to see what you can do to simplify decision-making in the more mundane aspects of your life.

把你生活的某些方面设置为默认模式,这样你就不必做出太多不必要的决定。例如,史蒂夫 · 乔布斯总是穿着501牛仔裤和黑色高领毛衣。奥巴马总统只穿蓝色或灰色套装。他告诉《名利场》 : “我正在努力削减决策。”。“我不想决定吃什么或穿什么。因为我还有很多其他的决定要做... 你需要集中精力做决定。你需要把自己常规化。你不能因为琐事而分心。”从中获得灵感,看看你能做些什么来简化你生活中更平凡的方面的决策。

Sip some lemonade.


In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Baumeister talks about the role of glucose in self-control. Glucose is the chemical in the bloodstream that carries energy to the brain, muscles and other organs and systems. "In simple terms," Baumeister says, "glucose is fuel for the brain. Acts of self-control reduce blood glucose levels. Low levels of glucose predict poor performance on self-control tasks and tests." Willpower can be restored by raising your blood sugar. He recommends periodically replenishing glucose, even if it's just with a glass of lemonade, to strengthen your ability to maintain self-control.