Self-control via strategic allocation of attention

From Don’t in the New Yorker:

What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten.

Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it.

… this is how self-control “cashes out” in the real world: as an ability to direct the spotlight of attention so that our decisions aren’t determined by the wrong thoughts.

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