a little something called ‘willpower’

There was a great interview on Spark today with Kelly McGonigal, the author of The Willpower Instinct. The main point of the interview, since Spark is a tech show, was how to combat those addictions to digital technology but she made some points that are relevant to pretty much every situation.

First, willpower isn’t just mental:

[4:04] And it turns out that willpower is actually a lot like the stress response in that it unleashes a set of coordinated changes in your body that are meant to help you deal with a new kind of threat, and that threat is something that is more internal. A desire, or a distraction, or an impulse that somehow your brain recognizes is counterproductive or destructive to your goals. And so rather than preparing you to fight or flee with this turning on of the energy and priming you to act, the willpower response actually slows you down.

Second, her suggestions for enhancing willpower were surprisingly simple (for the most part):

  1. Getting enough sleep (more than 6 hours per night).
  2. Meditation, as little as 10 minutes a day.
  3. Getting physical exercise.
  4. Taking small steps towards your goal makes it easier to take on the next big change.
  5. Thinking about what we really want (and stop making it a test of whether you’re a good person or not).
  6. Slowing down and pay attention.

Of course, you first need to willpower to do this stuff! I could really use some extra willpower these days. Not with frugal livin’ but with buckling down to school. Will get right on that thesis proposal as soon as I’m done reading her book….

My one peeve with the interview is Ms. McGonigal’s unrelenting uptalk. I know that’s the thing these days but it’s sooooo annoying?

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4 thoughts on “a little something called ‘willpower’

  1. Hopefully she doesn’t write in uptalk? That would get annoying? (I didn’t realize it was a thing. I just always put it down to insecurity/immaturity in a speaker.)

  2. I’m a Japanese who has been struggling in speaking not Japanglish but English.
    Kelly McGonigal PhD appeared in a Japanese news show featuring her book.
    I was impressed with her uptalk/HRT and will try to mimic it. Sorry off the point you’re taking.

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