It turns out that exerting self-control can mean being happier both in the long run and in the moment. Research has shown that self-control is more about managing conflicting goals than going without, and that it positively contributes to happiness through avoiding and dealing with motivational conflict.
Researchers found a strong connection between higher levels of self-control and life satisfaction. The authors of the research write that “feeling good rather than bad may be a core benefit of having good self-control, and being well satisfied with life is an important consequence.”
Experiments also revealed how self-control may improve mood. Those who showed the greatest self-control reported more good moods and fewer bad ones, but this was because they exposed themselves to fewer situations that might evoke craving in the first place rather than being more able to resist temptations. They were, in essence, setting themselves up to be happy. “People who have good self-control do a number of things that bring them happiness — namely, they avoid problematic desires and conflict.”