Martin Seligman: Self-control

Some theorists, like my friend Roy Baumeister, believe that self-control is a general trait. My experience with weight-loss versus exercise belies this. I have weighed 95 kg for the last twenty years, and I have dieted a dozen times only to return to 95 kg each time, usually after losing about 5 kg. No self-control? Hardly. Eighteen months ago I took up walking, knowing that 10,000 steps per day halves cardiac risk for someone my age and with my profile of risk. I have walked an average of 14,000 steps per day ever since and my New Year’s resolution is 5,000,000 steps in 2009. I am well on track to my goal. So self-control is for me highly domain specific. For you?

Martin Seligman is Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He founded the field of positive psychology in 2000 and has published over 20 books and 200 articles on motivation and personality. In 2002 he was named among the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century by the Review of General Psychology.

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6 thoughts on “Martin Seligman: Self-control”

  1. Have a read of Gary Taubes' amazing “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” Short version: Maybe you've been misled where weight loss goes. Maybe weight loss isn't a function of self-control; and maybe weight gain isn't a function of excessive self-indulgence.

  2. If you're interested in a new approach to boost your happiness based on the latest positive psychology research, check out our iPhone app: Live Happy; it's based on the work of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” and provides a unique method to create a personalized program to increase your happiness.

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  3. also, if you look at the way in which you approach the two things you have broken the 'stepping' into daily targets thereby possibly making it seem more achievable aiding motivation/ organisation in your everyday cognition. Whereas terming something a diet rather than adapting the way in which you approach food (surrounding attitudes/ food eaten etc) might produce similar results.

  4. I've tried various low-carb, low-calorie, and low-fat diets for the past couple of years. Although the Atkins diet is very popular, it made me feel somewhat unhealthy.
    The diet plan I'm on right now is the Medifast Diet. The caloric intake is roughly 800-1000 calories. However, it doesn't make my body feel weak. It is a bit of a pricey diet, but there are plenty of coupons available on the internet (i.e. You should never pay full price.
    My advice is just choose a diet plan which your body reacts positively to. No one knows your body better than you do!

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