A new book, “Willpower, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” by Dr. Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, came out earlier this year. It has some very interesting findings that could help the spa and wellness world structure programs for greater success.
- Willpower, self-control, self-discipline, all mean basically the same thing: the ability to control our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviors.
- Self-control is the key skill that really changes people’s lives.
- A famous marshmallow study showed that children who were better at self- control when they were very young – also ended up doing better in school and later in life.
- Self-control is a better predictor of college grades than the IQ test.
- Self-control is a lot like physical strength – when you exercise a muscle, it becomes fatigued and eventually unusable. After one act of self-control, the next one becomes harder.
- Decision-making relies on the same resource that self-control relies on. If you have people make a bunch of decisions, they then show poorer self-control. If you have people exert a lot of self-control, they then have more trouble making decisions or end up making poorer decisions.
- Decision-making takes resources. There is something about decision-making that may take away from the restorative process. (Spas might want to consider reducing the amount of decision-making guests need to do… think menus, etc.)
- People with high self-control experience temptation less often. They structure their environment to not be overly tempting. (Spas might want to consider reducing temptations for guests…think fewer buffets, no brownies in the locker room, etc. as it taxes guest’s will power)
- People with good self-control (willpower) don’t keep a lot of junk food in their homes. They keep their lives structured so that they’re not tempted unnecessarily.
- Make lifestyle changes sequentially, not all at once. Instead of tackling several lifestyle improvements at the same time (think New Year’s Resolutions) just select one at a time. (Spas could coach guests to take small, individual steps.)
- Habits don’t require self-control. If someone gets into a habit (like going to the gym daily or not eating sugar, etc.), it won’t tax their self-control to continue doing that.
- If people want to change their behavior, the habit research shows that one of the best things for them to do is to go to a new environment. (This bodes well for the spa industry.)
- Self-control actually relies on glucose because the brain needs fuel. Ironically, when people diet they are denying their body the very fuel they need to control their behaviors. This is one of the keys to why most people do not (cannot) stick to diets.
- You can strengthen self-control. Cultivating mindfulness is one way.
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Or join the conversation with our question of the week: Do you think spas should reduce temptations for their guests?