Then, I discovered is that mini Butterfingers aren’t all that bad. In fact, I even developed a Butterfinger rationale to accompany my consumption. My plan to avoid filling up on sugary treats didn’t help at all when it came right down to temptation of chocolate in the cupboard.
In a new study published in Psychological Science researchers Loran Nordgren and Eileen Chou looked at how we respond to temptation. They found that thinking about how to resist temptation doesn’t help us all that much. People, when in an “aroused,” “hot” or passionate state came up with reasons to indulge in their temptation while study participants who were induced to a “cold” or less passionate state were more willing and able to wait.
Desire, it turns out “corrupts the cognitive processes that would help you interrupt that behavior,” says Nordgren.
One way to thwart temptation though, is to be reminded of God, according to Kristin Laurin, PhD, lead author of another study out of the University of Waterloo in Canada.
In one of six experiments into how the idea of God influences behavior, participants ate fewer cookies after reading a short passage about God than those who read an unrelated passage.
But, those who were prompted to think about a higher power didn’t fare as well on achievement related tasks. Seems thoughts about God might keep you out of trouble, but suppress your motivation on individual goals.
Researchers say the effects were true irregardless of the levels of devotion among participants and even among those who said they were not religious.
So what gives? Thought of a higher power can help ease temptation, but slow down your forward progress? Mindfulness can be one way to further both causes.
The practice of being open, receptive and aware to the present moment can help you negate the passion that comes with cravings or desire. It allows you to sit in the moment with the emotions that arise without needing to eat, buy, drink, or do anything for the time being. When you become present to your feelings without acting on them, temptation will pass.
The moment may also yield some insight or motivation needed to keep you on track to your goals.
And I’ll tell you one thing, next time I have candy in the house, I’m going to think of God, practice mindfulness, and duct tape the cupboard closed. Maybe all that will keep me out of trouble.
The post, written by Polly Campbell, originally appeared on Psychology Today.
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