Want to boost your self-control? Then take a look in the mirror.

Many people want to increase their self-control so that they can achieve more success, complete more goals or avoid certain bad habits. The good news for th0se people is that recent research from neuroscience suggests that boosting self-control could be as simple as looking at a picture of yourself or your reflection in a mirror.

Research has shown that a persons ability to exhibit self-control is closely linked to general success in life (for example, with grades at school or income level at work) and that self-control is better when a certain part of the brain (the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex or rVLPFC for short) is active.

OK so we know the science but how does that help us boost our self-control? Well according to  Matthew Lieberman, a professor at UCLA, and author of the excellent book, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect” the rVLPFC is particularly stimulated when we look at an image of our own face.

So when we look at ourselves in a mirror or in a picture our rVLPFC become much more active which in turn boosts our self-control. An excellent example of this comes from studies of students taking exams. When there was no examiner present in the examination room, students were 10 times less likely to cheat if there was a mirror in front of them than those students who had no mirror to see themselves in.

There are a number of things you can do to take advantage of this and boost your self-control according to neuroscientist Ward Plunet. You can place a framed picture of yourself in your workspace area, or add a selfie to the background image on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Or you could have a strategically placed mirror so that you can ‘reflect’ more throughout the day. According to Plunet, a mirror would be better than a picture because it is dynamic and it is you in ‘real-time’.

It’s a really simple technique backed up by solid science so what have you go to lose by giving it a go? If you do try it out we’d love to hear how you get on and what impact it has made.

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