Self-control is a great skill to have. Most of us don’t have it on a bad day.
It helps you stay focused, resist temptation, and move closer to your goals. In fact, you could argue that it’s at the root of all self-improvement. But exercising self-control isn’t easy. There are distractions and temptations everywhere that can lead you off-track.
These 10 YouTube videos will teach you all about self-control. Use the scientific principles behind it to improve your own ability to focus and make good choices every day.
1. The Secret to Self Control
Takeaway: Win the next mental battle by thinking about a light switch.
There aren’t any “secrets” to self-control, just like there aren’t any secrets to productivity . This presentation by Jonathan Bricker has great advice on using what he calls willingness — which is a lot like mindfulness — to allow temptations to come and go without acting on them.
While this particular video is focused on unhealthy living, these lessons could easily be applied to any area of your life that could benefit from added self-control.
Use the lessons from this TED Talk to win against your struggle with cravings.
2. Dan Ariely on Self-Control
Takeaway: Help your brain resist an immediate temptation by delaying a choice.
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist with several fantastic books, including Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.
In this talk, he shares his experience with contracting Hepatitis C (it doesn’t sound relevant, but it is), the interaction of importance and time in decision-making, and the reward substitution strategy.
It’s a great 18 minutes filled with humor and insights.
3. How to Develop Self-Control to Create an Amazing Life
Takeaway: The secrets to self-control starts from the “self”. The solution lies in not blaming the outer world.
In this video from Actualized.org, you’ll learn about the benefits of self-control as well as some of the psychology behind self-control and what you can do to improve yours.
Leo focuses on the difference between the outer and inner world, which might seem like a rather basic concept, but it’s crucial for a real understanding of why you have difficulty with self-control and what to do about it.
4. To Increase Self-Control, Boost Your Energy Level
Takeaway: How something simple as sleep could help you exercise better self-control.
If you’ve looked into bloggers or podcasters who focus on happiness, you’ve heard of Gretchen Rubin. In this quick video, she talks about how your energy level has a serious effect on your self-control, and recommends a few strategies to give you a quick boost to your energy and willpower (her perfume strategy is a little weird… but effective!).
5. The Willpower Instinct
Takeaway: Small willpower actions can have large, positive outcomes.
This video is quite a bit longer than most of the other options. But it provides a detailed look at what influences willpower, including sleep, the brain, and psychology.
Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and popular self-help author. She lists sleep, meditation, physical exercise, and a low-glycemic diet based on plant-derived foods as solid pillars upon which to build a foundation of self-control. Most of the strategies from her bestselling book — The Willpower Instinct.
6. Three Keys to Improving Your Self-Control
Takeaway: Understand your personality to control your impulses.
Pete Gerlach is an experienced psychotherapist and, while he’s not an especially engaging speaker, he does have some interesting ideas about self-control. This video discusses the three “personality subselves”: inner children, guardians, and managers.
Understanding the relationship between these subselves is a great way to get some insight into self-control and how to manage it.
7. Self-Control by Khan Academy
Takeaway: Self-control can be replenished with rest and relaxation.
Khan Academy is a great place to get an education online and videos like this one make it clear why so many people spend time on this site.
This explainer provides an easy-to-understand explanation of ego depletion, as well as the muscle metaphor for improving self-control. You’ll also get an overview of the famous “Marshmallow Experiment”, which is a good one to know.
8. Willpower: Self-Control, Decision Fatigue, and Energy
Takeaway: Self-control is the key to our well-being.
Although he’s an esteemed psychologist, Roy Baumeister isn’t an exciting presenter. Despite this, his presentation on decision fatigue and willpower will give you some good insights into our minds. The life-changing one is on how the number of decisions you make in a day can deplete your self-control and affect your willpower.
He even gets into the details of how glucose (sugar) affects your willpower. An important insight into our culture comes from his idea that, “advertising knows that self-control is the enemy to them.”
9. Five Self-Control Techniques
Takeaway: A quick self-control lesson for kids.
This video is pretty cheesy, and made with a not-so-great whiteboard-video app, but the information is quite useful.
While it’s intended to help children improve their self-control, the five techniques (planning, rules, challenges, consequences, and practice) are great for anyone trying to improve themselves.
10. Scientifically Proven Techniques to Increase Willpower
Takeaway: Four techniques you can exercise right away.
Leo from Actualized.org is back with a short discussion on why willpower is crucial for a successful, happy life. He shares some tips on strengthening your discipline and willpower reserves. It never hurts to have more ideas for practicing!
Tell Us Your Favorite Self-Control Resources
These 10 videos are a great place to start when it comes to learning about self-control, from the pure scientific work behind it to practical ideas for exercising and strengthening your willpower .
But you can never have too much information, and we want to know about your favorite resources that have helped you understand or build more self-control.
Share your favorite videos, articles, and books on self-control in the comments below! Let us know if you liked these videos, too, and if they’ve inspired you to make changes in your own life.
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