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Flashcards in Willpower Instinct Deck (44):

When tempted by a cue

if you succumb now, there is a better chance you will succumb later. Keep in my end if you continue the behaviour, the negative effects will come,


Deep Breathing

When confronted with a desire, start timing your breaths, slowing down to four to 6 breaths a minute, focusing on the exhalation. This gives a reserve of willpower. Regular Practice of this technique can make you more resilient to stress and build willpower reserve.


Green Willpower

exercise in greenspace, low energy really helps.

exercise restores, rather than drains, your energy and willpower.



is the enemy of willpower. Stress drains willpower faster than anything. self control incompatible with stress.



deprivation prevents body from absorbing glucose properly.

In a crunch, taking a short nap can restore focus, even if you didn’t get much sleep the night before.

7-9 hours.

When you find yourself not doing your willpower task, consider what your are doing instead of saying yes to sleep.


Eat the Frog

Highest in the morning and decreases as the day goes on.

Anytime you have to fight an impulse, filter out distractions, weigh competing goals, or make yourself do something difficult, you use a little more of your willpower.


Willpower Diet

Resorting to high fat, high sugar diet will lead to a self control crash and burn. In the long term, blood sugar spikes and crashes can interfere with the body’s and brain’s ability to use sugar— meaning you could end up with high sugar but low energy

Low glycemic diet—lean proteins, nuts and beans, high fibre grains and cereals, and most fruits and vegetables—basically fruits that looks like its natural state and does not have a ton of added sugar, fat, and chemicals.


Strengthen I won’t power

Commit to not swearing, a habit of speech, crossing or not crossing your legs when you sit, or using a non dominant hand for tasks


Strengthen I will Power

Commit to doing something every day, just for the practice of building a habit and not making excuses.


Strengthen Self Monitoring

Keep track of something you don’t usually—spending, time spent online or watching tv, calories.


Is your exhaustion real?

Too often we use the first feeling of fatigue as a reason to skip exercise, procrastinate, order a pizza. But you have more willpower than you think. The next time you find yourself too tired, challenge yourself to go beyond that first feeling of fatigue.

Promise that practice would improve performance on a difficult task helped the students push past willpower exhaustion.


To Renew strength, tap into I want power


1. How will you benefit from succeeding at this challenge? What is the payoff for you personally? Greater health, happiness, freedom, financial security, success?

2. Who else will benefit if you succeed at this challenge? Surely there are others who depend on you and are affected by your choices. How does your behaviour influence family friends, coworkers, employees/ employer and community? how will your success help them?

3. Imagine that this challenge will get easier over time if you are willing to do what is difficult now. Can you imagine what your life will be like, and how you will feel about yourself, as you make progress on this challenge? Is some discomfort now worth it if you know it is only a temporary part of your progress?


Self Control muscle

Self Control is like a muscles. It gets tired from use, but regular exercise makes it stronger.
When you are trying to make a big change of transform an old habit, look for a small way to practice self control that strengthens your willpower but doesn’t overwhelm it completely.


Revoke License, Remember the Why

The next time you find yourself using good behaviour to justify indulging, pause and remember when you succeeded and resisted temptation.

Licensing indulgence today for better behaviour tomorrow: I’ll do it once more and thats it.

You need to look at what you have done and conclude that you must really care about your goal, so much so that you want to do even more to reach it. I did that because i wanted to.

For better self control, forget virtue and focus on goals and values.


Goal liberation

Self control success satisfies the higher self. When you make progress towards your long term goal, your brain—turns off the mental processes that were driving the long term goal. It will then turn to the still unsatisfied self indulgence.


Variability of Behaviour

wHEN YOU WANT TO change a behaviour, aim to reduce the variability of behaviour, not the behaviour itself.View every choice you make as a commitment to all future choices. So instead of asking do i want this candy bar now? Ask yourself do i want the consequence of eating a candy bar every afternoon for the next year?
If you should do something, instead of asking would i rather do this today or tomorrow? as yourself “do i really want the consequences of always putting it off?”


Virtuous halo

we feel so good about ordering something healthy, our next indulgence doesn’t feel sinful at all.
When we want permission to indulge, we’ll take any hint of virtue as justification to give in.


promise of happiness

not the direct experience of happiness, is the brain’s strategy to keep you hunting, gathering, wooing.

Dopamine’s primary function is to make us pursue happiness, not make us happy

Our brains mistake the promise of reward for a guarantee of happiness, so we chase satisfaction from things that might not deliver.


What gets your neurons firing

Pay attention to what captures your attention. What unleashes that promise of reward that compels you to seek satisfaction


Power of an Unpredictable Reward

Our reward system gets much more excited about a possible big win than a guaranteed smaller reward, and it will motivate us to do whatever provides the chance to win.

dopaminizing boring things like saving for retirement and filing taxes on time.


Dopamine your I Will Power Challenge.

Bringing dreaded work to a favourite cafe and finishing over hot chocolate, and buying lottery tickets and placing them next to procrastinated projects around th house. Others visualize the best possible outcome of their handwork, to make the faraway rewards seem more real. If theres something you’ve been putting off because its unpleasant, can you motivate yourself by linking it to something that gets your dopamine neutrons firing?


Stress of Desire

Most of us pay far more attention to the promise of feeling good than the actual bad that accompanies dopamine drive desire. This week, see if you can notice when wanting triggers stress and anxiety. If you give in to temptation, do you feel like you are responding to the promise of reward? Or are you trying to relieve the anxiety.


Test the Promise of Reward

Mindfully indulge, but don’t rush through the experience. Notice what the promise of reward feels like, whatever is going on in your brain and body. Then give yourself permission to give in. How does the experience compare with the expectation? Does the feeling of the promise of reward every go away, or does it continue to drive more. When do you become satisfied? Or do you simply reach the point of being unable to continue, because you’re stuffed, exhausted, frustrated, out of time or out of reward.

We need to separate the real rewards that give our lives meaning to the false rewards that keep us distracted and addicted. We must distinguish wanting from happiness.


Temptation as relief

brain is especially susceptible to temptation when we feel bad. Stress, anger, sadness, self doubt and anxiety shift the brain to a reward seeking state.


stress relief strategy

Work:Playing sports, reading, listening to music, spending time with family, going for a walk, meditating doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby.

Doesn't Work:gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing internet, watching tv or movies for more than two hours.

Is there a way to remind your stressed out self what actually makes you feel better? what encouragement can you create for yourself before you are stressed?


Self criticism

consistently associated with less motivation and worse control. One of the single biggest predictors of depression, which drains willpower.


self compassion

being supportive and kind to yourself in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self control.

You’re only human Everyone struggles with willpower challenges and everyone sometimes loses control. This is just part of the human condition, and your setback does not mean there is something wrong with you.


Optimistic Pessimism for Willpower failures

Research shows that predicting how and when you might be able to break your vow increases the chances that you will keep a resolution. Ask yourself: When am I most likely to give in? How am I most likely to let myself get distracted from my goal? What will I say to give myself permission to procrastinate? Let yourself see how a typical willpower failure unfolds. Then consider what specific actions you could take to stick to your resolution. Do you need to remember your motivation? Get away from the temptation? Visualize yourself overcoming this hurdle. Let this vision of yourself give you the confidence that you will do what it takes to reach your goal.
Ready your plan for when your willpower is tempted or failure looms.


How are you Discounting Future Rewards?

ask yourself what future rewards do you put on sale each time you give into temptation or procrastination. What is the immediate pay off for giving in? What is the long term cost? Is this a fair trade? If you see it as a lousy deal, try to catch the moment and reverse your preferences.

Not being able to see the immediate reward made it abstract and less exciting to the reward system. Anything you can do to create distance will make it easier to say no.


Wait Ten Minutes

When immediate gratification comes with a mandatory ten minute delay, the brain treats it like a furtive reward. Takes away the powerful biological impulse to choose immediate gratification. Institute a mandatory ten minute wait for any temptation, If in ten minutes, you still want it you can have it. Create some physical and visual distance as well.

For procrastination: Do ten minutes, than you can stop.


Lower Your Discount Rate

People are loss averse— that is we really don’t like to lose something we already have.

1. When you are tempted to act against your long term interests, frame the choice as giving up the best possible long term reward for whatever the immediate gratification is.
2. Imagine the long term reward is already yours. Imagine your future self enjoying the fruits of your self control.
3. Ask yourself: Are you willing to give that up in exchange for whatever fleeting pleasure is tempting you now.


Precommit your future self

Commit yourself from a clear distance.
1. Create a new default. Make choices in advance and from a clear distance, before your future self is blinded by temptation. Pack a healthy lunch before salivating over take out. Schedule and prepay for gym sessions or dental visits. What can you do to make it easier for you act on your rational preferences?
2. Make it more difficult to reverse your preferences. Find ways to eliminate the easiest route to giving in. Get rid of temptation in your home or office. Don’t carry credit cards when you go shopping, only carry as much cash as you want to spend. Put your alarm clock across the room so you’ll have to get out of bed tot turn it off. What can you do that would put a delay between your feelings of temptation and your ability act on them.
3. Motivate your future self. There is not shame in using a carrot or a stick to nudge yourself toward long term health and happiness.


Mirror neurons

sole purpose is to keep track of what others are thinking, feeling doing. help us understand the full range of other people’s experiences.


Strengthen your immune system from others

The best way to strengthen your immune response to other people’s goals is to spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day thinking about your own goals and how you could be tempted to ignore them. Like a vaccine that protects you from other people’s germs, reflecting your own goals will reinforce your intentions and help you avoid goal contagion.


Self Control Role Model

Research shows that thinking about someone with good self control can increase your own willpower. Is there someone who can serve as a willpower role model for you challenge. Someone who exemplifies the kind of self control you’d like to have? When you need a little extra willpower, bring your role model to mind. Ask yourself: what would this willpower wonder do?


Social proof

When the rest of the tribe does something, we tend to think its a smart thing to do.


strategy for discouraging unhealthy behaviour

convince people its the habit of a group they would never want to be a member of.


The Power of Pride

Put the basic human need for approval to good use by imagining how proud you will feel when you succeed at your willpower challenge. Bring to mind someone in your tribe whose opinion matters to you. When you make a choice you are proud of, share it with the tribe.

being kicked out of a tribe drains willpower. Anytime we are excluded or disrespected, we are at greater risk for giving into our worst impulses.


Make it a Group Project.

You don’t have to conquer your willpower challenge alone. Just checking in and encouraging one another can provide a boost of social support to your self control. Make it into a competition. who can save the most money in one month?


Investigating Ironic Rebound

s there something you try to keep out of your mind? If so, examine the theory of ironic rebound. Does supression work? Or does trying to push something out of your mind make it come back stronger?

Permission to think a thought reduces the likelihood of thinking it.


Accept Cravings—just don’t act on them.

acknowledge the craving, but recognize that you do not need to act on that craving.
1. Notice that you are thinking about your temptation or feeling a craving.
2. Accept the thought or feeling without trying to immediately distract yourself or argue with it. Remind your self of the white bear effect.
3. Step back by realizing that thoughts and feelings aren’t always under your control but you can choose whether or not to act on them.
4. Remember your goal. Remind yourself of what your commitment is. Think of your future self.


Turn your I wont into I will

What could you do instead of the I won’t behaviour that might satisfy the same needs? Most bad habits are an attempt to meet a need, whether its reducing stress, having fun or seeking approval. You can get the focus off of prohibiting your bad habit by replacing it with a better habit. switching coffee with tea.

If you weren’t doing the bad habit, what might you be doing instead? Most of out addictions and distractions take time an energy away from something else we could be doing. Sometimes focusing on that missed opportunity is more motivating than trying to quit the bad habit. Reality tv—practice cooking.

Can you redefine the I won’t challenge so it becomes an I will challenge?
Sometimes the same behaviour can be thought of in two ways. not being late —first person there or five minutes early. If you focus on what you want to do, rather than what you don’t want to do, you sidestep the ironic rebound.


Surf the Urge

When the urge takes hold, pause for a moment to sense your body. What does the urge feel like? Do you feel tension anywhere in your body? Whats happening to your breathing, your heart rate, your gut? Stay with the sensations for at least a minute. Notice whether these feelings fluctuate, See if you can stay with the sensations without trying to push them away or acting on them. The breath can be a wonderful source of support. The practice builds with time. Feel it, don’t automatically give in.

It is impossible to control what comes into our mind. All we can do is choose what we believe and what we act on

It is impossible to control what comes into our mind. All we can do is choose what we believe and what we act on


Secret to Self Control

People who have the greatest self control aren’t waging self war. They have learned to accept and integrate these competing selves.
If there is a secret to self control, the science points to one thing: the power of paying attention. Its training the mind to recognize when you are making a choice, rather than running on autopilot. Its noticing how you give yourself permission to procrastinate, or how you use good behaviour to justify indulgence. The promise of a reward doesn’t always deliver and your future self is not a super hero or a stranger. Its staying put and sensing a craving when you’d rather distract yourself and give in. It’s remember what you really want and knowing what really makes you feel better. Self awareness is the one self that always counts to help you do what is most difficult and what matters most.