September 24, 2008 Impulse control is becoming increasingly important on a personal and global scale for solving problems as diverse as obesity, smoking, compulsive shopping and even global warming. But if appealing to our intellect rarely works, what does? Psychologist Dr Max Sutherland looks at the issue and writes that rather than engage the mind in combat, take advantage of how it works. Don’t shop when you’re preoccupied or hungry, do good deeds after, but not before, shopping. And shop well in advance. Another fascinating article full of psychological tips to help control impulses and resist temptation.
Trying to pit intellect against impulse is usually futile. We know that salad is better for us than choosing a Big Mac but while our mind says salad, our taste buds and stomach collude to scream out “gimme a Big Mac”. That’s why rational ad messages such as ‘eat wisely or ‘drink in moderation’ so often come across as lame. We just can’t seem to help ourselves in spite of knowing the negative consequences if we allow impulse to hold too much sway.
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