Quit or cut down? Which is easier? I’m referring to chocolate, or beer or facebook or anything you have in your life that you consider unhealthy.The popular view these days is that you need to have a little bit of what you love so that you don’t feel deprived. If you swear off chocolate (or whatever it is) you will end up bingeing on it. Friends might offer you a muffin because ‘just one won’t hurt’. But some types of people do better if they go cold turkey.
Author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, has written about the difference between moderators and abstainers, and if you can figure out which one you are, changing your habits might become easier.
A moderator is someone who can have a packet of biscuits in the cupboard but just eat one a day. Or can spend 15 minutes on facebook and then get back to work. The thought of cutting out their ‘vice’ completely is too horrible to contemplate. They’d rather just cut down.
An abstainer knows there is no such thing as ‘just one biscuit’ so they are more likely to succeed by cutting them out of their life completely. For these people, ‘never’ is actually easier to stick with than ‘sometimes’. Rubin defines the two types like this:
You’re a moderator if you…
- find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure and strengthens your resolve
- get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something.
You’re an abstainer if you…
- have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
- aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off limits