The present research provides the first evidence that temporarily giving up something pleasurable may provide an effective route to happiness. Participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate during two lab sessions, held 1week apart. During the intervening week, we randomly assigned them to abstain from chocolate or to eat as much of it as possible, while a control group received no special instructions related to their chocolate consumption. At the second lab session, participants who had temporarily given up chocolate savored it significantly more and experienced more positive moods after eating it, compared to those in either of the other two conditions. Many cultural and religious practices entail temporarily giving up something pleasurable, and our research suggests that such self-denial may carry ironic benefits for well-being by combating hedonic adaptation.
Quoidbach, J., &Dunn, E. W. (2013). Give it up: A strategy for combating hedonic adaptation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(5), 563-568.