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Self-Discipline Can Lead to Happiness, Study Reports

Update Date: Jun 25, 2013 03:27 PM EDT

Saying no to a fun night out to study instead does not mean that you are losing out on all the fun. Researchers report that having some level of self-discipline can benefit the person in the moment and in the long run as well. The study found a correlation between self-restraint and control and overall happiness. It concluded that self-control should not be considered self-deprivation but rather, time management of goals and tasks.

"Feeling good rather than bad may be a core benefit of having good self-control, and being well satisfied with life is an important consequence," the author wrote in their study according to TIME.

The researcher analyzed a series of tests that were administered to participants. One of the tests involved 414 middle-aged people. It measured self-control by asking the participants about their current and past life satisfaction. Another test that stood out to the researchers had asked participants, with the help of smartphones, about their mood and desires. After calculating the data, the researchers correlated that higher levels of self-control were tied to more life satisfaction.

Since the researchers found a correlation and not a cause-and-effect relationship, self-control cannot be identified as the direct cause of increasing one's life satisfaction. The researchers found that people who appeared to have more self-control exhibited this type of restraint because they knew that it would help them avoid unfavorable events.

"People who have good self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness - namely, they avoid problematic desires and conflict," one of the authors of the study, Kathleen Vohs said. Vohs is a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. Researchers also asked participants to weigh virtues against vices. They found that people had more self-control when the action would interfere with their goals significantly. For example, if people were focused on their diets, they will have more restraint when it comes to deciding whether or not eating ice cream is worth the pain of weight gain.

The findings were published in the Journal of Personality

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