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More Information and Recent Research on Self Control and Behavioral Change

(Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Maybe to be less than optimistic is to admit defeat. We seem predisposed not to give in.  As Churchill put it: “… I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” The Dalai Lama has a simple take: optimism “feels better.”
(Alex Lickerman, M.D., Psychology Today) [T]he ability to delay gratification—that is, impulse control—may be one of the most important skills to learn to have a satisfying and successful life. The question is, how do we learn it? The answer may lie in the strategies [psychologist Walter] Mischel's high-delay children used. Rather than resist the urge to eat the cookie, these children distracted themselves from the urge itself.
(Carlin Flora, Psychology Today) The Marshmallow Test, as you likely know, is the famous 1972 Stanford experiment that looked at whether a child could resist a marshmallow (or cookie) in front of them, in exchange for more goodies later. Follow-up studies showed that kids who could control their impulses to eat the treat right away did better on SAT scores later and were also less likely to be addicts…I began to wonder if another factor is in play during these types of experiments. Not just an ability to trust authority figures, but a need to please them.
(Diane Dreher, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Context makes a huge difference in our lives. In a reliable, trustworthy world, impulse control--waiting for the greater reward--can bring us greater success. But in an unstable environment, instant gratification is the rational choice: getting what you can before someone takes it away. It’s the difference between growing up in a stable home environment or an atmosphere of deprivation, domestic violence, and addicted or emotionally unavailable caregivers.
(Art Markman, Ph.D., Psychology Today) If you were lucky enough to be born with a high level of self-control as a child, then that bodes well for you in the future.  But, what if you are a “one-marshmallow” person, prone to give into short-term temptations? In that case, you have to find ways to protect yourself from yourself.  One important thing you can do is to remove temptations from your environment… A second thing you can do is to engage with people around you to help you achieve your long-term goals.
(Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP, Psychology Today) Because behavior and habits are so hard to change doesn’t mean that we should throw in the towel and give up. We just really need to be smart about it. Having reasonable expectations is one way to start. We need to change behaviors for us that are doable and sustainable. Findings ways to alter our environment to support behavior change is also very important (e.g., getting a large dog that needs a nice long walk each day is a great way to get your own exercise).
More . . .
A Plan For Breaking Those Bad Habits
(James Ullrich, Psychology Today) A desire to reach your goal necessary, but it is only one ingredient needed to break a bad habit; what you also need is a thoughtful, logical action plan that takes into account the psychological realities of the challenge.
(U.S. News & World Report) Set smart goals, don’t do too much too fast and find accountability.
(U.S. News & World Report) W I can't realistically suggest you simply find new friends if your current ones are holding you back, healthiness-wise. But if they are interfering with your health goals, you need to do something about it. Here's what I suggest: Create a goal, and don't forget it… Be a leader, not a follower… Plan ahead for difficult situations… Create new ways to spend time together.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to improve self control.
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Please do not give advice. We can best help each other by telling what works for us, not what we think someone else should do.