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Gian Dara

@gianrad

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What willpower is

Willpower is the ability to resist or delay short-term desires to achieve long-term goals. Other names for willpower are self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, determination, drive. Willpower consists of three things:

  • "I won't" power - Saying "no" to temptation.
  • "I will" power - Saying "yes" to the things you know will lead to long-term satisfaction.
  • "I want" power - Remembering your goal.

@gianrad

The Psychology of Willpower: Training the Brain for Better Decisions

positivepsychology.com

  • Self-control appears to be a better predictor of academic achievement, a determining factor of effective leadership, and essential for marital satisfaction.
  • People who harness their willpower more effectively are happier, healthier, have better relationships, are further ahead in their careers, are more able to manage stress and deal with conflict.
  • The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of our brains situated right behind our forehead. It is responsible for abstract thinking, analyzing thoughts, and regulating behavior.
  • The PFC controls what we think about, what we pay attention to, how we feel. Studies point out that this part of the brain is only fully developed around age 25.
  • The "I will power" is controlled by the region near the upper left side of the brain and helps you start and continue with not so fun tasks.
  • The right side handles the "I won't power," preventing you from acting out on every impulse.
  • The "I want power" sits in the middle of the PFC and keeps track of your goals and desires.

When the PFC gets damaged, it can alter your personality and interfere with your willpower. One recorded case of damage to the PFC was in 1848, when an iron went straight into the skull of Phineas Gage, blowing away his PFC. He survived, but had a complete personality change, became irreverent, indulging at times, impatient of restraint or advice.

States that inhibit our PFC are being drunk, sleep-deprived, or just distracted. It can lead us to focus on our impulses, rather than our long-term goals.

  • The hot system is the impulsive, emotional part, and manage your responses to certain triggers.
  • The cool system is the cognitive, thinking system that reminds you to tame your impulses and focus on your long-term goals.

A willpower challenge is a conflict between these two systems, where one eventually will triumph.

Once we understand the root cause of our behaviors, it is easier to work towards our goals. One way is to improve our self-awareness. How many food choices do you make a day? While most people would guess around 14, studies reveal the average number is 227.

Self-awareness is the ability to recognise what we are doing as we're doing it. One way to increase your self-awareness is to keep track of all your choices on a given day, then analyse which ones supported your long-term goals and which ones didn't.

Meditation can train your brain for better self-control. Meditation increases your attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness.

When we practice a certain behavior, we strengthen the neural connections for that behavior, making it more accessible and likely to occur. Practice worrying, and you get better at worrying. Practice concentration, and you'll get better at concentration.

One study found that participants who focused on consistent exercise for two months ate less junk food and more healthy foods; they watched less television; they studied more; they saved more money; they procrastinated less.

Instead of considering how much exercise you need for results, focus on how much you're likely to do. Start with realistic goals.

Our brain's normal functions, such as thinking, learning, and memory, relies on glucose. Exerting our willpower uses a considerable amount of this fuel, leaving our brains in a state of alert trying to attain normal blood sugar levels. The drop in blood sugar will generally leave us more and prone to reach for sugary foods. But high fructose corn syrup can increase levels of stress hormones in the brain.

To prevent this, eating whole foods regularly and avoiding refined sugars will keep your glucose levels stable and equip you with increased willpower.

When you're stressed, the sympathetic nervous system takes over - also referred to as the "fight or flight system." It enables your body to respond quickly to perceived threats or stress. When this happens, your heart rate goes up and stays high, leading to feelings of anxiety and anger.

People with high levels of stress are more prone to poor self-control and focus. Stress will also shift your brain to a reward-seeking state: Whatever will make you happy at the moment will become a fixation. That is why people who are stressed are more likely to smoke, gamble, play video games, surf the internet or watch TV. The most effective stress-relief strategies include exercising, reading, listening to music, and spending time with loved ones.

Two other major hindrances to self-control are:

  • Self-criticism: Feeling bad makes it harder to resist temptation because we want to cover our shame and guilt with instant gratification. Instead, be compassionate with yourself, especially when confronted with failure.
  • Temptation: Environmental cues create tempting environments that can trigger your impulses. It is important to reflect before you act.
Shunryu Suzuki
"Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer."

The elements of change - zen habits

zenhabits.net

Change can be a difficult thing. Most people want to change their lives, in some way, but find it difficult to either get started or to sustain the change for very long.

It can be incredibly difficult, or it can be wonderfully joyous.

  • Beating inertia (resistance to change): Pick the middle ground between no change and drastic change.
  • Beating the resistance of others: Ask for their help and get them on your side, or negotiate a way for you to make change without disrupting their lives too much.
  • Finding the joy and keeping it alive: Doing something you hate is possible, for a little while, but you’ll never sustain it.
  • Celebrating the little victories: Every step along the path is a victory.
  • Making it a part of your life: To integrate change into your life, it must become a part of your daily routine.

And if you already know it will happen, then there’s no pressure to avoid it.

Fail, fail often, and learn. Then you’ll be better equipped for the next attempt.

HELEN KELLER
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence".

Hope Quotes That Will Get You Through Any Tough Times

goalcast.com

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope".
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON
"Hope itself is like a star — not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity".
TOM BODETT
"They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for".
THEODORE ROOSEVELT
"When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on".
WILL SMITH
"I wake up every morning believing today is going to be better than yesterday".
ROBERT H. SCHULLER
"Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future".
ALFRED TENNYSON
"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…"
ALBERT EINSTEIN
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important things is not to stop questioning".
BARACK OBAMA
"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope".
ARTHUR MILLER
"I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self".
MARIAH CAREY
"When you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth- that hero lies in you".
WINSTON CHURCHILL
"All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope".
VICTOR HUGO
"In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clinched fist none".
ARISTOTLE
"Hope is a waking dream".
JONAS SALK
"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality."
THICH NHAT HANH
"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today."
WOODROW WILSON
"You are not here merely to make a living, you are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
"To live without hope is to cease to live".
Absurdism

Absurdist art exhibits an inverted perspective of reality where juxtaposing elements should not exist in the same realm.

However, this genre is not for everyone. Every single one of us have our own opinions regarding absurdist art. It's like how some people appreciate classical and orchestral but some don't find the appeal in it.

How Absurd Do You Like Your Art? - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

nautil.us

Absurdism allows the mind to consume unexplainable things. The kinds of things that we seek to experience can be found in a "sweet spot" between possessing recognizable patterns and inconsistency.

This desire is rooted from the evolutionary need where we need to find knowledge and learn things about the world.

Bad behaviors cascade

That reticence to ever ask someone out on a date probably plays out in your failure to move to a new city, to take that new job or the timidity around your co-workers.

10 Reasons Why You Fail

markmanson.net

Standing out of the crowd

People don’t like it when someone changes or does something that makes them feel awkward or insecure. They will think he’s crazy, selfish, arrogant. If you want to do something incredible, you have to become comfortable with being different from the rest.

Nothing worth having comes easy

As cliche as that sounds. Most of us give up on something we’re passionate about too soon. But anyone who’s been successful has a tale of struggle and perseverance to share.

Humility

It means knowing what you don’t know. 

Many people accomplish a little bit and decide that they are experts. But successful people often downplay their successes (or usually never even mention them) - they regularly point out their weaknesses and how they need to learn more.

Success and strong relationships

Success means building strong relationships. Creating a wealth of social and romantic relationships hinges on the ability to meet people and connect with them in a meaningful manner. And living without regular social contact is as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes.

Don't argue against feedback

The feedback loop goes like this: try something -> get feedback and results -> learn from feedback and results -> try something new.

People who are dead set on arguing why what they already believed is right (despite not working) are effectively breaking the chain off and not accepting feedback. Therefore they will never change.