The article about the study, and the study itself, was a little hard for me to follow. However, the useful part related to people doing good things, or even imagining themselves doing good things, enhances self-control. Here’s what the article says:
“Gandhi or Mother Teresa may not have been born with extraordinary self-control, but perhaps came to possess it through trying to help others,” says Gray, who calls this effect “moral transformation” because it suggests that moral deeds have the power to transform people from average to exceptional.
Moral transformation has many implications, he says. For example, it suggests a new technique for enhancing self-control when dieting: help others before being faced with temptation.
“Perhaps the best way to resist the donuts at work is to donate your change in the morning to a worthy cause,” Gray says.
It may also suggest new treatments for anxiety or depression, he says: Helping others may be the best way of regaining control of your own life.
The key part of the famous marshmallow experiment was kids developing strategies to distract them from eating the marshmallow. This might just be one more way to accomplish that distraction.