What You Gain When You Give Things Up

Arthur C. Brooks: I often explain to my students that self-denial takes our cravings out of the control of our lizard brains, and delivers them to our prefrontal cortex, where we have a chance to manage them consciously. Decades of research have shown that self-efficacy strongly predicts well-being in many areas of life. As such, a season of sacrifice exercises my muscles of self-mastery; it brings my passions to heel and shows me I am not the sum of my appetites. It turns out that there is nothing so odd about deriving happiness from voluntary sacrifice, after all. In fact, sacrifice can be a valuable part of your happiness repertoire.


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