summary The Willpower Instinct How Self Control Works Why It Matters and What You Can Do to Get More of It 109


characters The Willpower Instinct How Self Control Works Why It Matters and What You Can Do to Get More of It

The Willpower Instinct How Self Control Works Why It Matters and What You Can Do to Get More of It

The first book to explain the new science of self control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health happiness and productivityAfter years of watching her students struggling with their choices health psychologist Kelly McGonigal PhD realized that much of what people believe about willpower is actually sabotaging their success Committed to sharing what the scientific community already knew about self control McGonigal created a course called The Science of Willpower for Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program The course was an i I thought this was going to be another do what I did type self help books Boy was I wrong I am so glad I read this bookThe Willpower Instinct is based off of a 10 week academic style class taught by the author It uses the latest information from neuroscience to explain what exactly your brain goes through during a thinking or decision making process and how to use that process to your advantage to increase your sense of self control That may sound boring or technical but McGonigal has a knack for communicating difficult science in lay terms with a sense of humor to boot For example she asks you to imagine you are walking down the street on a beautiful day and the birds are in the treessinging John Lennon's Imagine The book says at the very beginning that it offers NO EASY TRICKS to help with willpower However I found that to be completely wrong Most of the techniues offered are uite simple For example as little as 5 minutes of exercise can boost willpower Or just slowing down your breathing for just ONE MINUTE can also help your self control The science behind all these techniues are covered in depthI was even amazed by some of the scientific facts that I wasn't previously aware of I am usually up to date on neuroscience so learning something new from a scientific viewpoint wasn't something I expected with this bookI highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever struggled with willpower goal setting or motivation

read ↠ E-book, or Kindle E-pub Ë Kelly McGonigal

Satisfying relationships and make money Willpower is not an unlimited resource Too much self control can actually be bad for your health Temptation and stress hijack the brain's systems of self control and that the brain can be trained for greater willpowerIn the groundbreaking tradition of Getting Things Done The Willpower Instinct combines life changing prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help readers with goals ranging from a healthier life to patient parenting from greater productivity at work to finally finishing the basemen I thought I had promised myself No self help books about procrastination Unfortunately when it comes to books I have no willpower haha Fortunately this book is totally different from all those other worthless books I've read There are lots of interesting scientific experiments mostly on humans except the one rat study was terrible and I really wish it wasn't stuck in my brain The book starts out with very basic advice eat better get better sleep get some exercise and start meditating And it goes on from there I actually took a few pages of notes in my journal which is an indication of how much I was inspired by the book I will definitely be re reading it soon Peppa Pig prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help readers with goals ranging from a healthier life to Dot.Homme patient The West (3rd Edition) parenting from greater The Maddest Idea (Revolution at Sea productivity at work to finally finishing the basemen I thought I had The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running promised myself No self help books about A Biggles Omnibus procrastination Unfortunately when it comes to books I have no willpower haha Fortunately this book is totally different from all those other worthless books I've read There are lots of interesting scientific experiments mostly on humans except the one rat study was terrible and I really wish it wasn't stuck in my brain The book starts out with very basic advice eat better get better sleep get some exercise and start meditating And it goes on from there I actually took a few The Power of Soft pages of notes in my journal which is an indication of how much I was inspired by the book I will definitely be re reading it soon

Kelly McGonigal Ë 9 read

Nstant hit and spawned the hugely successful Psychology Today blog with the same nameInformed by the latest research and combining cutting edge insights from psychology economics neuroscience and medicine McGonigal's book explains exactly what willpower is how it works and why it matters Readers will learnWillpower is a mind body response not a virtue It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness exercise nutrition and sleep People who have better control of their attention emotions and actions are healthier happier have


10 thoughts on “The Willpower Instinct How Self Control Works Why It Matters and What You Can Do to Get More of It

  1. says:

    How willpower exactly works is still mystical however we know what increases our willpower and what can deplete it There is a lot of talking about the willpower however there was no a book that would cover all the practical things that can improve it In fact this is a book about productivity from the perspective of willpower So if you struggle with getting things done this one might be a good fit for youTop 3 strategies from this book that I applied to my life Identify and describe the inner conflict that keeps you from being productive Watch your diet—eat foods that keep your mind healthy energetic and focused Fight being negatively influenced by othersFrom this book I extracted 16 strategies on improving your willpower and wrote a detailed book summary available here


  2. says:

    Perhaps this book spoke to me so directly and deeply because I consider lack of willpower my single biggest flaw or at least the one that I feel most guilty about I don't know if the author cured me but she certainly made an entertaining and outstanding attempt I had so many omg that's me moments I thought she was my biographer I want Kelly to get money so I'm hiding this review but below are my notes as I went alongbook dish vegetables Brain is like a muscle and will improve in certain areas with practice eg juggling improves visual perception of motion memory games strengthens memory it also gets tired with use the prefrontal cortext is your willpower organ it helps you do the harder thing among different choices meditation sends blood to the prefrontal cortext and makes it stronger 3 aspects of willpower goals I will I won't I want big goal we cave to impulses when we're distracted stressed and tired the muscle is not effective our natural impulses fight or flight try pause and plan An I will problem might be better cast as an I won't problem eg if you have trouble with i will go to bed early maybe i won't turn on the TV at night works better try to make it fun and playful for you instead of i won't be late make it i will always be the first one there if you're competitive good eating exercise sleep all help your willpower muscle slow breathing shavasana exercise shot of greenery nap a little sugar all might help rejuvenate your willpower if you overburden it the willpower muscle will get weaker and it works across different arenas eg students cramming will inhale junk food dieters cheat on their spouses you can build up your willpower muscle by training it with small non overwhelming habits eg don't surf the TV during commercials beware moral licensing that good feeling you get when you finish writing out your to do list you haven't actually done anything yet but you feel like you deserve a reward you don't basically the angel on your shoulder was satisfied and now all you hear is the demon instead ask why you resisted or did the hard thing focus on your goals decrease variability if you slip make a rule that you will always do that thing for a month helps you value future time beware dopamine fueled desires Dopamine makes you pursue pleasure it doesn't mean you experience happiness Notice how it actually feels to actually do the thing you think you want to do Often not that great try to create a dopamine effect for things you want to do eg listen to music while vacuuming Beware what the hell effect Forgive yourself for slipping up it's natural and human don't think you blew the whole diet and binge Effective stress relief strategies exercise praying reading music time with friendsfamily massage walk outside meditation yoga creative hobby Worst stress relief strategies gambling shopping smoking drinking eating video games surfing internet TV or movies for than 2 hours Frame the decision as a loss of future benefit instead of a current gain eg is my future awesome body worth this cookie precommit burn your ships tax your time destroy your ethernet card etc don't wait for future you to complete your to do list there is no future you that is full of energy focused diligent and loves doing taxes even a 10 mins delay of an impulse will make you reduce your flawed PV calculation of its benefit social proof what you think others are doing is a huge influence on your behavior find a group of people who embody your ideals don't think about the white bear supressing an urge makes it powerful instead surf the urge stop and notice every physical response notice your breathing accept that you have this feeling sometimes it's uncontrollable but remember that you choose whether to act on them or not remember your goal the urge will pass like a wave if you wait imagine how proud you'd feel not succumbing to your urge people who think they're especially great at something are the worst


  3. says:

    I thought this was going to be another do what I did type self help books Boy was I wrong I am so glad I read this bookThe Willpower Instinct is based off of a 10 week academic style class taught by the author It uses the latest information from neuroscience to explain what exactly your brain goes through during a thinking or decision making process and how to use that process to your advantage to increase your sense of self control That may sound boring or technical but McGonigal has a knack for communicating difficult science in lay terms with a sense of humor to boot For example she asks you to imagine you are walking down the street on a beautiful day and the birds are in the treessinging John Lennon's Imagine The book says at the very beginning that it offers NO EASY TRICKS to help with willpower However I found that to be completely wrong Most of the techniues offered are uite simple For example as little as 5 minutes of exercise can boost willpower Or just slowing down your breathing for just ONE MINUTE can also help your self control The science behind all these techniues are covered in depthI was even amazed by some of the scientific facts that I wasn't previously aware of I am usually up to date on neuroscience so learning something new from a scientific viewpoint wasn't something I expected with this bookI highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever struggled with willpower goal setting or motivation


  4. says:

    This is basically a book for people in the thrall of a compulsion habit or addiction they wish to change Me? I'm on a diet And in fact much of the book was geared towards people dieting It's range however covered a wide range of compulsions and it could be utilized by anyone who wants to give up or change a behaviourMy enjoyment of the book was greatly enhanced by my sister reading it with me We followed the author's suggestion to read only one chapter a week the better to mull over and practise what we had read as we went along Now what did we think of the uality of information and ideas presented? Well most of them were based on cutting edge research and most of the ideas given were completely new to me That was a big plus The author was not just re hashing old psychology Indeed some of the ideas presented were really counter intuitive and I am still trying to get my head round some of the exercises suggested I'm going to give it a go thoughthe research cited was pretty convincingSome of the ideas though were outlandishly ridiculous or at least me and my sister thought so There were a few that had us rolling around on the floor with laughter and we shall not be putting those into practice A lot of the ideas though sounded extremely interesting unexpected but interesting and we shall certainly be giving them a bashAll in all a fascinating book I hope to come back at a future date and add another paragraph to this review This is a doing book and can really only be judged by the fruits of its ideas I need to come back after I have been practising them for a while and note the level of successMy one grump is that I think there should have been a synopsis at the end a brief 'to do list' for the exercises presented It would make putting them into practise much easier21st August 2014 UpdateI'm afraid I can now hardly remember what the book was aboutand I have not been putting its ideas into practice This may well be a reflection of my own air brained ineptitude Regrettably no big changes as a result of reading it I am therefore marking it down from four to two stars Given the negative commentary that the paragraph above has evoked I think I expressed my ideas badly I will therefore add a commentI think I am at fault in one respect I don't think I made clear the fact that I have read several psychology books that have revolutionized my life Among these I would particularly recommend The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb and Errornomics why we make mistakes and what we can do to avoid them by Joseph T HallinanThe book above was uite the opposite Fairly interesting in places but the ideas petered out like a damp suibs as soon as I put the book down in spite of me having rigorously practised the exercises while reading the book a chapter a week as suggested by the author


  5. says:

    A fabulous book about willpower that surprised me with its insight and clean prose Popular psychology books often get a bad rep for either oversimplifying science or complicating it to the point if incomprehension Kelly McGonigal however provides concise research supported strategies supported on how to achieve goals ranging from eating healthier to smoking less to staying faithful to your spouse She gives a uality mixture of anecdotes analysis and applications to ensure that readers walk away with the tools to alter their habits for the betterI most loved this book for its emphasis on self compassion McGonigal enforces that treating ourselves with kindness when we mess up because all humans mess up increases our chances of succeeding in our pursuits Indeed tenderness toward oneself does not mean sacrificing ambition or resolve rather it entails using our ability to forgive ourselves as a driving force to do even better While McGonigal shares tons of cool tricks from basic and neuroscience oriented scientific studies to improve willpower her consistent push toward loving oneself elevated the depth and meaningfulness of The Willpower Instinct Overall recommended to anyone interested in psychology andor to those trying to make a change in their lives If you want a in depth look on how to improve your relationship with food I would recommend Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and if you wish to learn about the flawlessness of self compassion check out Self Compassion by Kristin Neff Thank you Kelly McGonigal for writing a psychology book that slays


  6. says:

    I'm now reading this for the second time It has a lot science and a lot less self help nonsense than you might expect And yes it is OK to admit to reading it nobody's perfect when it comes to willpowerHere's a sampling of what I learned from Dr McGonigal's book 1 Willpower is centered in a specific region of the brain within the prefrontal cortex It uses energy than almost any other brain region and therefore it gets tired after prolonged use each day It's also like a muscle in that training it through very specific meditations breathing exercises and a few other tricks increases its strength and endurance over time2 Heart rate variability is the most closely correlated metric to willpower There are specific things you can do to increase your heart rate variability if you need a uick willpower boost For example slow down your breathing as much as possible ideally 4 breaths minute3 Your brain's dopamine system the short term reward center is the root of most willpower problems because for survival reasons you are hard wired to prefer an immediate reward in front of you like a burger over a long term reward like good heart health You can get around this by delaying the short term reward for 10 minutes and then using that time to compare the 2 competing rewards objectively without interference from your brain's powerful short term reward system4 Over time is paradoxically far easier to resist temptations if you DON'T try to repress them but instead actually focus on them until they go away by themselves Many studies have proven this counter intuitive finding I absolutely recommend this book not so much for its practical benefits although those are great but for the intrinsic value of knowing yourself


  7. says:

    This book is immensely valuable and very much needed by most people It isn't even that the book itself is so fantastic though it is definitely a good book clearly written good ideas well executed The topic matter is so absolutely pertinent that a thorough and adeuate treatment of the subject automatically becomes enormously helpfulIt's somewhere in between a readable review of the science and a well structured self help book In terms of the order of the chapters there are a few fairly essential subjects chapter 6 on self compassion and healthy pessimism and chapter 9 on acceptance of difficult feelings I believe that I think would be of value in an earlier part of the book if the reader takes the approach which the author recommends which is to pick a goal or 'willpower challenge' read one chapter per week and gradually work on that challengeOn the other hand because her chapter summaries and short description of exercises are so short and well written you can easily ignore her advice read the book uickly and return to those summaries and exercises once a week perhaps even re ordering themAn issue is that as the author says basically willpower is tiring One thing she doesn't go into is that what should begin with willpower should turn into habit because habit is not tiring Exercising our 'willpower muscle' is important but knowing how to transition changes from choices into habits is at least as important so that we can move on to new willpower challenges With that in mind I strongly recommend that this book is read together with Part I and the appendix of Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Parts II and III are about group habits and may not be very relevant to individualsWhich book to read first? If you're going to tear through The Willpower Instinct in a few days then return to the summaries and exercises in order to apply what you've learned I think it would be best to read The Willpower Instinct first while deciding what your challenge is going to be Then as you're applying her exercises read The Power of Habit Part I and the appendix


  8. says:

    McGonigal brings together the newest insights about self control from psychology economics neuroscience and medicine to build willpower She is a health psychologist at Stanford School of Medicine where she teaches a course called The Science of Willpower that uickly became the most popular classes ever offered by Stanford Course evaluations call the course life changingThe book's 10 chapters reflect her 10 week course written in an interesting and easy style without any academic pompousness1 effective willpower just noticing what's happening is key2 the willpower instinct anything that puts a stress on your mind or body can sabotage self control but too much willpower is stressful3 self control is like a muscle it gets tired from use but regular exercise makes it stronger4 why being good encourages bad behavior we use past good behavior to justify indulgences5 why we mistake wanting for happiness even false promises of reward make us feel alert and captivated so we chase satisfaction from things that don't deliver6 how feeling bad leads to giving in self compassion is a far better strategy than beating ourselves up7 we discount both future rewards and future costs we consistently act against our own long term interests and we illogically believe our future selves will magically have willpower8 why willpower is contagious humans are hardwired to connect and we mimic and mirror both willpower failures and willpower successes of our social network9 inner acceptance improves outer control attempts to fight instincts and desires ironically make them worse10 final thoughts the aha momentEach chapter makes use of fascinating paradoxes to dispel common misconceptions about self control This book is way ahead of any others I've read on the subject for its wide range of down to earth and practical strategies for greater success


  9. says:

    I thought I had promised myself No self help books about procrastination Unfortunately when it comes to books I have no willpower haha Fortunately this book is totally different from all those other worthless books I've read There are lots of interesting scientific experiments mostly on humans except the one rat study was terrible and I really wish it wasn't stuck in my brain The book starts out with very basic advice eat better get better sleep get some exercise and start meditating And it goes on from there I actually took a few pages of notes in my journal which is an indication of how much I was inspired by the book I will definitely be re reading it soon


  10. says:

    Excellent book Filled with tons of knowledgeStill need to edit these notes but here's the raw versionNOTESINTRODUCTIONThis book is based on a Stanford classPeople cite lack of Willpower WP as one of the number one things holding them backThe best way to improve self control SC is to seeunderstand why you lose controlBeing overly optimistic is bad because you cannot objectively judge your own flaws and predict times of difficultyTrueHonest self knowledge is the foundation of good self controlStruggles with WP are part of the human condition and in order to get of it you need to study yourself experiment and test the theories outThere are 2 types of challenges with a bonus 3rdI will challenges things that you normally put offignore like studying or running I won’t challenges refraining from negative activity like not spending money or not eating fast foods and I want challengesCHAPTER ONE I WILL I WON’T I WANT WHAT WILLPOWER IS AND WHY IT MATTERSI will and I won’t are the two sides of self controlHowever you need a 3rd thing you have to know what you really wantAs the world and society became complex the demands of WP grewStrong WP Good lifeStatistically WP is one of the best if not best determinants of successCertain states mimic prefrontal cortex damage like being drunk sleep deprived highly distractedThe Problem of Two MindsThe system of self control was put on top of old systems it didn’t actually replace themWe still have all of our ancient cravingsimpulsesWe have impulse and impulse controlAlmost like having two mindsThe Value of Both SelvesYes the primitive impulse self can be frustratingHowever it is still critical todayIn some cases it works with the prefrontal cortexeg High prices can stimulate a pain response making one less likely to overspendTHE FIRST RULE OF WP KNOW THYSELFSelf awareness lets you recognize when you need WP because most decisions stem from habit so awareness lets us avoid that when necessaryDistraction really hurts WP  since you lose your self awareness You can train WP physically through meditationStart with 5 minutes a day A short practice every day is much better than a long practice every once in awhileBeing bad at meditation is good for self controlWhen you are bad at meditation your mind will wander A LOTThat skill translates directly into WPYou notice you are off goal and then spend a lot of time redirecting it back to the present momentDon’t be worried when you struggle the struggle will improve your WPWP is a battle that can only be won through self awareness and self controlCHAPTER TWO THE WILLPOWER INSTINCT YOUR BODY WAS BORN TO RESIST CHEESECAKECraving is as much a physiological event as it is a psychological eventCertain physical states can helphurt youLearning those states will be helpfulWP is all about planning for tomorrow so we can see why the fight or flight response causes problems“We’re used to seeing temptation and trouble outside of ourselves the dangerous doughnut the sinful cigarette the enticing internet  But self control points the mirror back at ourselves and our inner world of thoughts desires emotions and impulses  For your willpower challenge identify the inner impulse that needs to be restrained Next time you’re tempted turn your attention inwardThe Willpower Instinct Pause and PlanWillpower has a biological signatureIt’s like the fight or flight FoF response but very differentUnlike FoF it is triggered by internal conflictthreatsIn a nutshell it slows your mind downThis is Your Brain and Body on WillpowerPause and plan PPMonitoring system dispersed throughout brain and connected to prefrontal cortexConstantly monitors thoughts emotion and stimulusIf sees things that suggest break with longer term goals system is activatedPrefrontal cortex is stimulatedEnergy is redirected from the body to the brainHeart slowsBreathing deepensMuscles loosenAll these things physiologically prime you to exercise willpowerThis system is innate to all people just like fight or flight but it doesn’t always feel like thatIt is also a much newer systemThe Body’s Willpower ReserveStudies have shown that the best predictor of the strength of someone’s PP response is their HEART RATE VARIABILITYEssentially everyone’s heart rate tends to vary from moment to momentThese are small but safe fluctuationsThe greater the variability the greater the willpowerThe sympathetic nervous system stimulates and “revs” the bodyThis increases heart rate and decreases variabilityThe parasympathetic nervous system puts the breaks onThis decreases heart rate and increases variabilityStress Sympathetic nervous system low variabilitySelf control Parasympathetic nervous system high variabilityWhen people use WP their variability goes upSo what actually causes high variability?Good food rest meditation low pollution etc all improve variabilityA calm mind is a WP mindExperiment Breathe Your Way to Self ControlThis is a “uick” fix that will help give you the edge in your WP struggles  When facing a WP challenge slow your breathing to 4 6 breaths per minute  This activates the parasympathetic nervous system increases heart variability and in the end will give you a WP boostTrain  Your Mind and BodyWhat follows are two strategies that will give you absolutely the most bang for your buck in regards to improving WPAlso they will help with general health and happinessThe Willpower MiracleMegan Oaten and Ken Cheng conducted a study on a techniue for improving WPAt the end of the treatment here is what happened to the subjectsImproved attention span improved ability to tune out distraction less smoking drinking caffeine junk food healthy food TV procrastination etcSo what was this miracle drug?Physical exerciseExercise helps in pretty much every aspect of your lifeHeart variability shoots ups with fitnessMore gray and white matter throughout the brainMost increases in the prefrontal cortexIn some cases as powerful as prozac for depressionWILLPOWER EXPERIMENT THE FIVE MINUTE GREEN WILLPOWER FILL UPFeeling like you need a uick dose of WP?  Get outside for just five minutes and move around  This will help give you a uick willpower “fill up”  If that outside is green space the effect is greater  It doesn’t have to be a mega workout In the long run exercise will give you much energy and power than it takes awayGain Willpower in Your SleepIf you are surviving on less than 6 hours of sleep a night you probably don’t even know what it is like to operate with full WPSleep deprivation absolutely murders WPUnder 6 hours chronically is really badSleep deprivationImpairs the brain’s ability to use glucoseTriggers sugar or caffeine cravingsBut even if you eat it the craving will persist because the brain can’t actually use the glucose in the blood efficientlyHits the prefrontal cortex harder than anything else as it is the most energy intensive part of the brainClinically called “Mild prefrontal dysfunction”With an impaired prefrontal cortex all of your brain regulation begins to falterAlarm system and fight or flight are no longer kept properly in checkOrdinary stress will trigger fight or flight and you will be stuck in a permanent physiological mild fight or flight responseFortunately all of this is easily reversableJust sleep Experiment ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZThe best is obviously 8 hours a night but that isn’t alway possible  A single good night can help reverse multiple bad ones so if you are busy during the week catch up on the weekend  Some studies suggest you can build up a reserve so consider oversleeping if you know you are about to enter a hard stretch  Finally naps can do wonders by breaking up consecutive waking hours  So the best is to actually get 8 hours but if that fails consider catch up stocking up or napping  If you find yourself avoiding sleep consider what you are saying “yes” to instead of sleep  Your WP issue may not be an “I will” go to sleep issue but a “I won’t” browse Reddit after 10pm issue  Consider what you have to say “no” to so you can say “yes” to sleepThe Cost of too Much Self ControlStress is very costlyDiverts the body’s resources to a perceived emergencyBut obviously some stress is also goodWP is also very costlyIt also uses the body’s resources aggressivelyChronic WP is just as bad as chronic stressSelf control is a nifty evolved response to a specific set of circumstances just like stress isTo preserve health and happiness you need to give up your pursuit of WP perfectionYou need time off and you need to choose your WP battles wiselyExperiment Relax to Restore WP ReserveRelaxation is very important  So here is a techniue that activates the physiological relaxation response for 5 10 minutesLie on your backElevate your legs slightly or do what is most comfortableClose your eyes and take deep breathsFocus on your bodyIf you feel tension in any muscle contract that muscle tightly for a few seconds then relax itRepeat for all tension in bodyThen just chill for 5 10 minutes in the knowledge that for these 5 10 minutes there is nothing you have to do besides relax and enjoy yourself If worried about falling asleep set an alarm A peaceful oneDo this every day if you are able  It will both reduce your stress and increase your WPOne Nation Under StressWillpower isn’t a personality trait or a virtueIt is a physical capacity and an instinctYou don’t always get to just make your mind up about itStress always harms one’s willpowerDon’t increase stress in yourself or others to get things doneBiologically stress and willpower are incompatible and antagonistic systemsPeople say the United States has lost its willpower“This week test the theory that stress whether physical or psychological is the enemy of self control  How does being worried or overworked affect your choices?  Does being hungry or tired drain your WP?  What about physical pain and illness?  Or emotions like anger loneliness or sadness?  Notice when stress strikes throughout the day or week  Then watch what happens to your self control  Do you experience cravings?  Lose your temper?  Put off things you know you should do?”The last wordWP is an evolved mental instinct that initially promoted healthy group dynamicsWP failures can often be traced to being in the wrong physical state to properly exercise WPWaging the mental WP war will be hard if you are not physically prepared to do itCHAPTER THREE TOO TIRED TO RESIST WHY SELF CONTROL IS LIKE A MUSCLESelf control is like a muscleBut it isn’t just using self control that can exhaust WPAny pause and plan action drains itThe one uses WP the less active the prefrontal cortex becomes over a short time frameIs it a problem of energy?In part yesLow blood sugar is a strong predictor of WP failureHowever WP uses less raw glucose energy than a task like walking so if you are walking then it isn’t just energyEnergy CrisisBrain has a very low energy storage capacityTherefore very dependent on blood for energyIf the brain detects a drop in blood sugar it will start to cut back on energy consumption and the prefrontal cortex gets cut very earlySo even if you can walk your prefrontal cortex may still be restricted“Energy Budget” model for self controlIn general your body will spend energy when it is plentiful and conserve it when it is notMore subtly it looks at the change in energySo increasing blood sugar WPDecreasing blood sugar less WPPeople Who are Starving Shouldn’t say No to a SnackSo the above may seem a bit frustrating but consider ancient scarcityIt makes sense for the brain to do the aboveLow blood sugar scarce resourcesTime to take risks and be impulsiveThe future doesn’t really matter as muchThe problem is that low blood sugar still pushes people to make risky and impulsive decisionseg People on diets commit adultery at measurably higher ratesExperiment The WP DietSugar spikes are not the answer to the above problem  Spikes lead to massive drops later and that means massive drops in WP  A smooth and even supply of sugar is the best option in regards to WP  This means focussing on foods that are low on the glycemic index  Consult a dedicated dieting resource but here are some low glycemic foods lean proteins nuts and beans high fiber grains and cereals and most fruits and vegetables  A decent rule of thumb is if it looks like it’s in its natural state not much post processing it is probably low on the index  Now it will take SC adn WP to switch to these healthier foods but they will give you increased returns given the even and steady blood sugar  Consider them a WP investment like exerciseTraining the WP MuscleCreate a WP exercise or challengeCreate and meet self imposed deadlinesFor example clean a closet over timeThese will help in all aspects of your WP in the long runSmall WP tasks maintaining good posture tracking spending etc are also great for WP exerciseAll of the above train you to notice your actions and then do the difficult thing and that is fundamentally what WP is all aboutExperiment A Willpower WorkoutStrengthen “I won’t”Commit to refraining from one trivial activity don’t swear don’t cross legs when sitting don’t slouch don’t use dominant hand to open certain doorsStrengthen “I will”Commit to one small habit that you will do every day meditate call a family member throw one old thing outStrengthen Self monitoringFormally track something you don’t normally track  Calories spending time spent online whatever works  A pen and paper is enough but there are tons of self tracking tools out there  Scope out wwwuantifiedselfcom if you really want to get into it  Pick it and stick to itTry to pick a workout that relates to your main challenge  So if you want to save money track your spending habits  If you want to exercise consider just doing 10 uick push ups before you shower  Even if you can’t make it relate directly you will still be improving your WPAnother way these exercises can come in handy is by easing you into truly massive WP challenges  Consider uitting smoking after a really heavy habit  If you can refrain from smoking for just some brief period for a work out that will help in the long runHow real are the limits of self control?When WP “runs out” is that just because exercising WP is getting hard or is that really a physical barrier?To find out let’s look at real musclesMaking the Finish LineConsider the marathoner who “pushes through” fatigueScientists used to think that when most runners stopped from fatigue or exhaustion they had hit a real physical barrierHowever when they examined the muscles of most exhausted runners they were physically still capable of running for uite some timeFatigue was in the mind In most casesThe brain uses fatigue as a trick to make you stop runningIt doesn’t want you to hit true exhaustion so stops you with “gas still in the tank”You will get the mental sensation of fatigue long before you are actually physically fatiguedFatigue is literally in the mindIt’s closer to an emotion than a physical sense of where your body is atThe first wave of fatigue isn’t a real physical limitThis doesn’t mean you can’t hit true exhaustion you can but it comes much later than you thinkTruly good athletes learn to ignore the first waves of fatigue and push onIf it was actually a physical limit they couldn’t push onSo why do we care about this?Some theorize that WP is like thisWhen we feel drained we really aren’t yet drainedWhen you feel WP exhaustion know that it isn’t a true physical boundary and you can keep goingThose who believe that WP exhaustion isn’t a “true” representation of their physical mental reserves don’t tire as uickly due to WP useThey just keep on pushingWhat a person believe about WP is their realityTherefore whenever you feel WP exhaustion just keep pushingIt is just like early physical fatigue and can be ignoredMicroscope Is your exhaustion real?When you feel that first moment of “I want to give up” or other WP exhaustion move past it  It can be ignored and pushed through in a manner similar to physical fatigue  However be aware of feeling constantly drained  If you always feel drained of WP you may have hit a real limit for the time being  However even those limits can be increased with time and mental exerciseWhere There’s a Want There’s a WillCorrect inspiration willpowerConsider some delicious girl scout cookiesTempting right?Now imagine someone will pay you 100 to not eat a single oneNot so tempting nowWhat you want will affect your WPSo incentives can workHere is one incentive that can apply to everyone who is exercising their WPPractice will make things easierWhat is hard and takes a lot of WP now will become easier and maybe even second nature in timeAs you exercise your WP things will get easierIt is a positive feedback loop that can and will bring you a better life if you stick to itExperiment What’s Your “Want” PowerWhen your WP is getting low tap into your want power  ConsiderThink of how you will benefit from completing this challenge  Will you have greater health?  More happiness?  More freedom?  Money?  Success?Think of who else will benefit  If you can’t do it for yourself consider your children or others you feel an obligation to  Think of family friends or community  How will they benefit from you sticking to your WP challenge?Know that this challenge will get easier for you over time if you are willing to do what is difficult now  Think of how great it will feel when you succeed down the line  Is some discomfort now worth that?Find which one of these works best for you and use it in times of need  Sometimes what you think will motivate you isn’t what you expect so experiment with them allEveryday Distractions and the Collapse of CivilizationAn experiment was run that reuired foresight and cooperation between multiple subjectsSubjects given a shared public resource an imaginary forestThey could “log” the forest for real moneyExperiment took place over a long period of time and the forest had a simulated grow back rateBest economic choice would be for all parties to cooperate and harvest slowly over timeThe control party did just that and made some decent cashThe treatment party was subjected to WP depletion treatmentsThey exhausted their forest so early the experiment had to be cut shortPeople with exhausted WP can’t be counted on to make good decisionsThis can be helped with choice architectureSet things up so the “better” thing is easier to doAutomatic opt in for organ donors automatically scheduled check upsKeep this in mind when making your own WP plansDon’t plan around some heroic you that can make great choicesPlan around the tired you that will give in and take steps ahead of time to move you towards the harder thingThe Last WordWe can’t control everything in our livesHowever we need to use WP to get better at itUse it or lose itBut don’t run a WP marathon every day


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