David DeSteno, The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions, The New York Times, December 29, 2017
Our tendency to be shortsighted — to value the pleasures of the present more than the satisfactions of the future — comes at a considerable cost. Surely by now you’ve heard of the psychologist Walter Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiments, in which children who could resist the temptation to immediately eat one sweet would be rewarded with a second sweet about 15 minutes later. Professor Mischel found that those who could wait — those who had self-control — were also the ones who had better academic and professional success years later.
Through the WI Lens
This article is particularly important because it debunks the myth that willpower and self-control help us keep our resolutions. Over the past 30 years, a spate of academic studies have tried to persuade us that those who have “grit” are best positioned for success, but as the author of the article (a professor of psychology) shows, new research suggests that nothing could be further from the truth. To succeed in making the best decisions for ourselves (in terms of eating better, saving more money, working harder or whatever improves our sense of wellbeing), we should focus instead on qualities such as gratitude and compassion that nurture social bonds. The reason is this: these qualities help reduce the human mind’s tendency to discount the value of the future; and in so doing they push us not only to cooperate with other people but also to help our own future selves. This insight portends an important lesson for the hospitality industry: nurturing its employees’ ‘soft’ skills is one of the surest ways to improve staff retention and clients’ satisfaction. Empathy and compassion can be taught!
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.