Whatever one thinks of AA’s spirituality, research suggests that thinking about God enhances self-control:
“The world is full of people who are fastidious about Biblical rules but can’t say no to fast food,” says Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. “There’s something about rules from God that make them easier to follow.”
According to research led by Kevin Rounding at Queen’s University in Ontario and recently published in Psychological Science, Rabbi Wolpe is right: People are better able to resist their desires when thinking about God. In a series of clever experiments, the Canadian scientists demonstrated that triggering subconscious thoughts of faith increased self-control.
Turns out that it may not even matter if you’re a believer:
The effect, it turns out, does not require religious belief. More than a third of the students in the studies were atheists or agnostics, yet the scientists found that they were still influenced by subconscious thoughts of God.
Charles Duhigg also suggested that faith is important in preventing habits from breaking down during periods of high stress.