Are self-disciplined people happier?

It is surprising to think that self-control could make you happier.

This groundbreaking 1998 research found that self-control is like a muscle. You can exercise this muscle by resisting that morning cup of coffee for another hour. But as the working day progresses your self-control ‘muscle’ gets tired, affecting your performance. Professionals have tried to combat this by beginning with the most challenging tasks in order to get the most out of their self-control abilities. Other high performers decrease the number of decisions they make in a day, Obama once told Vanity Fair that: 

“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

We’re entering an age where technology will decrease the number of decisions we make or make it easier. For instance,  AI will make processes and decision making a lot simpler by either performing our mundane tasks or advising what the best hiring decision is. Allowing us to apply self-control to the most important tasks. 

Happiness and self-discipline

This study found that self-disciplined people are happier. The research also revealed that participants who had higher self-control were better at choosing the best option when conflict arose than people with lower self-control. It’s not surprising that this ability would aid high achievers who regularly need to make the right decisions for a company. 

What do high performers have in common?

We identify and work with top performers from a variety of sectors. Although each sector has its unique attributes that ensure success there are a few traits which are universal. Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments on this: 

“These studies are an excellent example of the assessments and consequent results that we see in graduates on Management Fast Tracks. The ability to suppress initial urges to ‘react’ and consciously prioritise and ‘ignore’ unhelpful distractions or ‘reactive urges’ is key to become highly proficient in many areas. The outstanding people we have had the great pleasure of assessing and working with tend to score high on the attribute of Response Inhibition. It will be interesting to see whether this allows them to maintain higher levels of emotional wellbeing over time as well – often critical in the roles that they are in, and generally beneficial for all of us to look after.”

Each individual has their own unique set of abilities. Within a team of people there is going to be varying levels of will power. A team can support each other in improving their self-control, for instance, only bringing in healthy snacks so no one is tempted by junk food. In general, we believe a strong team has a range of abilities. For example, an extroverted person is able to effectively engage with clients, whilst an introvert on the team can problem solve an issue they are having. 

Discover how self disciplined your teams are 

On our platform you can assess an employee’s Response Inhibition, allowing you to see if they are reaping the benefits of this attribute. However, you can save time by assessing your team as a whole with our Team Fit tool. 

Team Fit is designed to assess how well a team functions in relation to interpersonal chemistry (Social Cohesion) and diversity of thought (Cognitive Fit). The process is designed around a combination of standardised online assessment instruments and customised surveys for teams of up to 100 members. You can also view reports detailing descriptive feedback, key takeaways, general feedback and insights. Armed with this scientifically backed information, it will make managing a team slightly easier. Find out more about Team Fit here.  

There are many methods we can use to improve our self-control to optimise our day and the decisions we make. Teams may find it easier to support each other in improving this ability. Finding out what your team’s Response Inhibition or collective abilities are will allow you to optimise your decision making. Book a demo with us to try our Team Fit tool.