More self-control is on everyone’s wish list. A simple way to use self-control has been discovered by neuroscientists, and daily use can build it just like a well-used muscle.
Let’s explore how this daily practice can work. Humanistic free will has fascinated people for ages, and Benjamin Libet, a neurophysiologist, was focused on this question. Dr. Libet researched the mental timing of when a voluntary act occurs. His research consisted of a simple task of lifting a finger.
The research shows those 0.3 seconds before lifting a finger, the brain sends a call to action message.
0.3 seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time for free will to occur. However, there is 0.2 seconds in which a person is aware that the movement is preparing to occur, and can stop the movement.
Viktor Frankl, a Nazi concentration camp survivor who later became a successful psychiatrist, summed this situation up rather well. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.” 0.2 seconds is not a significant amount of time, however, our brain can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
It takes a lot of conscious energy to stay on top of the choice point. There is a simple way to practice the choice point every day. If you prefer to use your right hand for simple tasks, just make the choice to use your left hand. Opening a door, holding the remote control, or brushing your teeth with you non-dominant hand can be a healthy workout for your brain. If this is practiced daily, when the pressure is on, you will have a greater sense of self-control in emotionally charged situations. Give it a try for a day, and if you make it a day, then try it for a week. Give your brain a workout, and consciously think about the difference!