Will, won't, want

  • 3 things driving our self controlled behavior (i.e. willpower)

    • Ex. I will work out daily. I won't eat cake after dinner. I want to be strong and have lots of energy
  • Prefrontal cortex is where will, won't and want operate. When at full capacity they do a good job. But it is vulnerable to distraction, fatigue, desire, being drunk etc. Ex. Phineas Gage

  • To maximize willpower, try to be fully in the moment Expl. Being distracted depletes in the moment willpower

  • People are more likely to be influenced by empty persuasive messages, such as commercials, when they are tired and depleted.

  • The ultimate destination should not be “losing 10 pounds,” it should be something intrinsically motivating, such as “Fitting into my sexy black pants

  • If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier

    • ex. Getting the motivation to go workout every day is difficult, but creating a mental link between being able to work harder and smarter with more energy is something I care about, so it makes the task of working out easier
  • The self-control of morning people is impaired at night; the reverse is true of night people.

  • The list of situations and tasks that are now known to deplete self-control is long and varied. All involve conflict and the need to suppress a natural tendency.

  • Fight or flight causes your body to suppress impulse control, as all physical and mental energy is directed towards survival

  • Anything causing stress on mind or body will reduce reserve of willpower

  • Stress encourages focus into the short term goals and outcomes, while self control requires you to keep the big picture in mind

  • Slow down breathing to 4-6 breaths per minute. This shifts the body from stress to self control mode

  • Fatigue takes place in the mind, not the body. It is a signal from our brain telling us to stop exerting physical effort, like anxiety tells us to be careful and disgust tells us not to eat that thing.

    • The implication is that feeling fatigue isn't a sign that you will just keel over imminently.
  • Tip: imagine how easy it will be to resist that chocolate bar 1 year from now with one years worth of practice

  • If your desire for having more willpower (not yell during fights) isn't working, try rethinking what your desire should be. Maybe your desire should be "be happier in the relationship"

  • Most of the things that make us feel bad about doing something inspire some sort of ick feeling inside, such as "is it morally wrong for 2 consenting siblings to have birth controlled sex?". The immediate response is yes, but we struggle to come up with a reason. When we are trying to do better on a particular virtue, we feel proud, and award ourselves indulgence credits that we can use.

    • normally a chocolate cake would cause us to ick inside if we are on a virtuous path of healthiness, but if we had previously worked out, then this feeling of ick goes away, since we've earned those credits
  • Goals should be personal. A bad goal is to "save money because it is the right thing to do". "right thing" is defined by society, and we don't feel a connection to it. A better goal is "save money because I want to take next year off and travel the world

Tip: page 96

Halo effect and willpower Labels like fat free, organic, free trade,

money saved allow us to overlook potential attributes that are actually detrimental to our goals.

When this happens, focus on the most consistent measure (ex. Calories, cost, time cost # Dopamine Dopamine is associated with a wanting for something, not the pleasure that comes with having it.

  • if there was no dopamine, you'd still enjoy sugar. You just wouldn't strive to attain it
  • dopamine is related to the reward centre, not the pleasure centre

Whenever dopamine is released, the mind becomes fixated on duplicating whatever triggered it in the first place

Therefore dopamine is the root of addiction

  • sexy poses cause us to anticipate mating, YouTube causes us to anticipate the next funny video, WhatsApp causes us to anticipate the message

Feeling down causes us to turn to promise of reward

  • eating, drinking, shopping, watching tv etc

Tip: when you do something that makes you feel good, but is not "sexy" (like exercising, see page 137 grey box), record a voice memo describing how you feel after doing it. Then next time you are contemplating whether or not you should do that activity, play back the note

Terror Management Stress and being reminded of death cause people to spend

when they wouldn't and give in to other temptations (ex. Food, cigarettes), even if people aren't consciously thinking about their death.

  • watching death scene in movie or seeing death in the news subliminally causes people to still react
  • death warnings on cigarette packages raises stress levels, and triggers smokers to seek instant relief, which happens to also be smoking