Self-Control as Inaction

Wu-wei : action through inaction

Wu-wei: action through inaction

The image of self-control, both in popular culture and in economics, is of a kind of action. But psychologists Justin Hepler and Dolores Albarracín report that priming people with extraneous inaction words helped them resist temptation, while extraneous action words made it harder for them to resist temptation. (See the news article by Rick Nauert,  “Is Unconscious Self-Control Possible?”) This sounds like Taoist wisdom to me: the key Taoist concept of wu-wei is “action through inaction.”