Photo: New York Times.
I am convinced that self-control is one of the most important attributes we possess as humans. It affects how we spend our money, our relationships, our productivity at work, and even our happiness. Without self-control we can accomplish very little in our lives.
If you need to be convinced of the importance of self-control, let me tell you a short story about two of my little friends. Matthias and Rudy are Rhesus monkeys. Time, however, has not been kind to Matthias. At 28, he is losing his hair, sports quite a paunch, and his face bears the wrinkles of his profligate lifestyle. Not a pretty sight. In the cage next to his lives Rudy – a lab mate of Matthias. Rudy is the picture of monkey good health, despite being older than Matthias. He is thin and full of vim and vigor with a full smooth coat of hair. He performs a near perfect arabesque when offered a piece of fruit. When offered the same reward, Matthias extends a shaky and frail hand.
What’s the difference between the two monkeys? Rudy has been practicing a simple lifestyle intervention called calorie restriction. He eats about 30 percent fewer calories than the average monkey but still gets the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients he needs. Calorie restriction has been found to extend the life-span of a wide variety of animals. Rudy and Matthias, along with other studies, provide evidence that aging is not something we must simply endure but something which can be manipulated. It may be that calorie restriction is more important than even exercise in warding off the effects of aging. The beauty is that calorie restriction may not just extend the length of your life, but the quality of it as well. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases do not need to be considered givens as we age. If a little self-control can extend the length and quality of your life, just think what it can do for your finances.
Source: Michael Mason, www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/health/…/31agin.html
I feel like this needs to be shared with all of America, considering we have the highest obesity rate in the world.
I agree. Our ability to delay gratification (self-control) affects every aspect of our lives – not just how we spend our money. Be sure to spread the word about this blog.
In a world where there is far too much for any one person to see, do, buy, or experience, self control seems to be the last thought on most people’s minds. Especially college students…
Great article and principle. If everyone followed this line of thought there would be less obesity and disease as well as fewer people struggling with financial problems.
I love the picture!
I like the way this article gives a different view point on a serious topic. I think it will allow people to see just how serious self-control is in our society.
I wonder how the monkeys were getting their calories… Was Matthias getting less calories because he was getting fed less calories while Rudy was getting larger proportions? While wild animals (personally I don’t think monkeys in a cage are wild animals but for the sake of science I’ll bend my beliefs) have a natural tendency to emphasize moderation, I wonder if the abnormal controlled environment and the stress of living in a cage had anything to do with Rudy and Matthias’s results… Hmmm seems like this causation/correlation has too many outside influences to determine such an outcome…
Matthias was on a carefully controlled diet where he was fed 30 % less calories but received all of the vitamins and nutrients he needed. Rudy was allowed to eat a “normal” diet (whatever that means for a monkey). With other monkeys being fed similar diets the results are convincing. The monkeys on Calorie restrcited diets are healthier than their lab mates on regular diets. The results suggest that many of the “diseases” of old age like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer can be avoided or put off by practicing a restricted diet lifestyle. And, think about it, if it worked in a laboratory setting where the worst diet was a normal diet just think of the difference if you were to compare a human on a calorie restricted diet to the nearly 2/3 of Americans who are overweight or obese. The differences in both quantity and quality could be enormous. Thanks for the comment.