Self-control…didn’t get or want that gene?

Glow Images

Glow Images

“Among humankind’s most valuable assets is self control,” concluded Wilhelm Hofmann and his team of researchers at the University of Chicago.  His study, first published in the Journal of Personality, found that the more self-control people had, the happier and more satisfied they reported being with their lives.

“Our findings confirm the importance of teaching children self-control to enable them to grow up to be healthy adults,” said Oregon Research Institute scientist, Sarah Hampson in another study – also published this month – in Health Psychology.

You may be thinking, “Hmmm, self-control…essential to happiness and health. Really? I didn’t get (or want) that gene!”

For me, self-control has definitely been an acquired behavior – one that needs regular tune-ups!

A few years ago when my husband and I were new in town, one of the first questions a neighbor asked me was, “How do you do it?”  Seeing my puzzled look she noted that we were both grandmothers, but my figure was one of someone younger.

I had struggled with my weight growing up. As a teenager and young adult, many were the diets I had tried.  Then over 30 years ago I changed my approach.

I found myself much heavier than I had ever been after the birth of my first child. Trying to control what I ate or stop a bad habit of overeating, had ultimately not worked.  In response to a temptation, Jesus answered that it takes more than bread to sustain life. In other words, to me the lesson was that just as it is necessary to eat every day, so it is as important to take in spirituality too.

image courtesy of Glow Images

image courtesy of Glow Images

To achieve the self-discipline I knew I needed, I decided to develop a habit of  regular Bible study and included some inspirational articles too.  My weight eventually normalized as did my eating habits, though that was not where I was placing my attention.

Occasionally in the decades since I have revisited this lesson if I find my self stuck in difficult circumstances or wanting to overcome negative personal tendencies that crop up.  I’ve learned that a consistent spiritual practice brings success in many areas, including self-control.

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