When presented with a cigarette, smokers who were told to envision the long-term consequences of smoking (lung cancer, heart disease, early death) were far more likely to resist the urge to light up than those who were told to imagine the short-term benefits of smoking (it feels good, it's calming), according to a study from Columbia University released last January. The researchers also found the same held true for nonsmokers faced with tempting foods; participants had better control over their cravings when they thought about long-term weight gain, as opposed to the immediate bliss of, say, biting into that gooey chocolate bar. "It's natural to think about the now rather than the later," says study author Hedy Kober, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University School of Medicine. "But we showed that people can teach themselves to think differently to the extent that smokers actually found they wanted cigarettes less when they used the 'think later' approach."
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