I am sure we all have, at some point of time in life, hit the snooze button of a ringing alarm even when we know that 5 minutes more of hiding under the bed covers is going to cost us. “Just stop procrastinating..!”, you would have told yourself when you have a pile of papers to read and you just want to watch a show on TV or sit in the balcony and stare outside. You plan a diet of heavy mornings and light dinners and promise yourself to stick to it for a month. After two days, your mother or wife makes a sumptuous mouth watering meal at night and you just devour it to your heart’s content.
Did you just notice one word that was missing in all these cases which led to disasters? Well, I did (for obvious reasons). This word has very high powers, is preached to us by elders and is an “exhaustible natural resource” in its literal sense.
The word is SELF-CONTROL.
The concept of self control dates back to all the religious books which constantly advocate its practice.
“He who has conquered his self is in the company of the Supreme. In cold or heat, happiness or sorrow, respect or disrespect, he is always serene.” (Bhagavad Gita Chapter VI)
“O David! …do not follow the whims of your own soul for they will lead you astray from God’s path.” (Quran 38:26)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Bible Galatians 5:22-24)
So what is it that makes our historians mention about this? Why is it so important?
To answer this we need to visit our animal brothers and sisters. Lets see what we have in common with them.
Scientists have found that animals also have care and affection for their peers. They also exhibit social behavior. By social behavior, I mean you could see a herd of elephants mourn for the death of one of its members. They have a helping nature too. Scientists have seen them help an elephant who collapsed in the African forest. Other animals exhibit similar characteristics.
So how are we different from them? We have a power to discriminate between good and bad. When we head towards bad, we try to control ourselves. Without this, we would just be animals.
Now, I said self-control is an exhaustible natural resource. To illustrate this, lets see this experiment which was one of the earliest in self-control.
Participants were asked to skip their meal and their hunger was further stoked by seating them in front of a tray full of delicious cookies. There was a bowl of radishes alongside.
Half of them were told to eat only radishes and not cookies. The other half were privileged with cookies.
Later, all the participants were given a set of extremely difficult (unsolvable) puzzles and were timed how long they kept trying before giving up.
It was observed that those who ate radishes gave up earlier than the ones who ate cookies.
What can we observe here?
Radishes are not brain food but cookies are..!! 😀 Definitely not.
By resisting cookies, their self-control and hence will power depleted. So they gave up on the puzzles soon.
This may be the reason why dieters eat more fattening food when their willpower has been depleted.
So the question is, how would you save this depleting resource and be a “human”?