A new study out of Florida State University reported on in the New York Times suggests that controlling blood sugar levels, laughter and positive thinking help boost will power. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at the University, ran a study involving two groups of participants watching a video, one group was asked to suppress any facial reaction while watching the video. Blood sugar level testing after the video showed that blood glucose levels dropped for the participants that were asked to suppress their facial reactions; however there was no difference in glucose levels for the participants whom were able to react normally.
Next the participants were asked to complete a second part to the study;
The video watchers were later given a concentration test in which they were asked to identify the color in which words were displayed. The word “red,” for instance, might appear in blue ink.
The participants that were asked not to react to the video did the worst on this part of the study. The suggestion in the study was that the incorrect responses were due to the fact that the participants had used up their capacity for self control in the first part of the study.
The researchers also found that participants that were given a sugary drink before the second part of the study performed better on the test than another group which was given an artificially-sweetened drink. Okay, so apparently, in this study anyway, eating sugar equals self control? How does this help those trying to exert self-control with their diet?
Interestingly, a marketing professor out of Minnesota has a different answer for how people exert will power. Kathleen Vohs, states that;
Laughter and positive thoughts also help people perform better on self-control tasks. Dr. Vohs notes that self-control problems occur because people are caught up “in the moment’’ and are distracted from their long-term goals.
Vohs says that the answer is to think about long-term goals vs. what you want in the here-and-now.
To summarize; in order to keep those new years resolutions leading research would suggest the following;
1) Try to keep your blood glucose levels consistent; eat small meals several times a day vs. eating large meals only a few times a day
2) Stay positive; think about times when you were happy and involve yourself in activities which encourage fun and laughter
3) Concentrate on where you want to go vs. where you are now; the next time you are staring down a candy bar think about what you are trying to accomplish, not instant gratification
4) Start small and celebrate little gains on your goal; if you are trying to loose weight congratulate yourself on loosing one or two pounds a week vs. being depressed about not loosing 5