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3 Ways Developing The Willpower Instinct Can Change Your Life

3 Ways Developing The Willpower Instinct Can Change Your Life

Stanford graduate, psychologist, and author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, Kelly McGonigal provides breakthrough ideas about how our minds interpret and act upon things in daily life. McGonigal is an advocate for willpower and seeks to help others harness the inherent quality of self-control that we all possess but sometimes do not know to shape or wield – whether it comes to managing addictions or maintaining discipline. Many things in life are addictive and the mind’s impulse will play tricks on you and do whatever it takes to attain its goal of immediate gratification. McGonigal created a very clear path of instructions that can help individuals to overcome and understand addictions, anxiety, depression, self-control, acting and more.

Below are a few of the major points of her guidelines to developing and maintaining willpower:

1. Addiction

Neuroscientists talk about how we have one brain and two minds. We have a mind that acts on impulse and seeks immediate gratification, and we have another mind that controls our impulses and delays gratification to fulfill our long-term goals. We face willpower challenges when the two minds have competing goals. Various study groups were created to test the results of McGonigal’s process of intervention. One major component learned is that when we decide we need “that “smoke or “that” drink, we need to stop, listen, and not act.

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We need to wait a few minutes and see if that desire to act upon impulse still lingers in your mind. The outcomes to date suggest that this process of delay has an 80%+ success rate. The smoker who wants to quit does not need any expensive tablets, gums, patches, hypnosis, or mediation from professionals to do so. Try this for yourself, it works! Believe it!

As a nicotine gum user for over two years, waking up one day and starting to play close attention to my wants, needs, and thoughts is exactly how one can manage to get over addictions. The simple act of shutting off immediate gratification is not easy. The sensations and feelings of addiction are literally 24/7. This becomes extremely obvious when you start to pay close attention to your thoughts.

Addictions come in many different aspects. The thrill-seeker is looking for that adrenaline rush, the foodies are looking for that experiential flavour sensation, the hobbyist is looking for that calm and excited adrenaline rush, the list goes on and on. Addictions can come in any shape or form. The frequency and rate at which any act is performed, constitutes an addiction problem.

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    2. Self-Control

    “Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines.”

    – Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct

    You have to ask yourself, what does she mean by “willpower machine”? Well, when you meditate you are paying close attention to everything and anything around and inside you. You notice every tiny fleck, speck, and thought. Anything that could possibly influence you in any way whatsoever during the day is observed and analyzed. This is an extremely powerful tool for any person.

    The sheer act of realizing that you have two separate brains that each serve a separate purpose is the first key to “self-control”. Kelly McGonigal herself practices yoga as a means to connect to her mind, body, and spirit. These new strategies and others are discussed in her book, The WillPower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, as part of the Authors@Google series. Topics include dieting/weight loss, health, addiction, quitting smoking, temptation, procrastination, mindfulness, stress, sleep, cravings, exercise, self-control, self-compassion, guilt, and shame.

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      3. Stress Relief

      When you start to pay close attention to everything in the present, you start to gain insight as to how you should proceed forward in life. No person in their right mind should be avoiding anything that brings them happiness. Presentations are a perfect example of “avoidance”. The positives gained from a great preparation, research, execution, communication, etc. all outweigh the negatives. Any discomfort a person may feel before, during, or after a presentation dissipates in the wake of the all of the good things that show up to take its place.

      Scientists have demonstrated that dramatic, positive changes can occur in an individual’s life when they face extreme situations. The stress catalyzed positive psychological change and repaired psychological distress, a process different from post-traumatic growth but with similar outcomes. Successful post-traumatic growth (PTG), or benefit finding, refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.

      For more from Kelly McGonigal, visit http://kellymcgonigal.com/.

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      Featured photo credit: Bible Study Tools via biblestudytools.com

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      praveen nadaraju

      Classical & Computer Animator & Industrial Designer

      Increase, Boost and Improve Your Natural Mindset Need Help Reaching 100,000 Hits on Your Virtual Reality Video on YouTube? 3 Ways Developing The Willpower Instinct Can Change Your Life 10 Master Principles of Animation

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      Last Updated on August 8, 2019

      How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip

      How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip

      Staying focused and maintaining high performance in a hectic work rhythm leads to stress and mental exhaustion. So how to improve brain memory naturally?

      The good news is that the negative effects of increased cognitive efforts can be prevented: brain foods, combined with healthy sleep regime and exercise, improve memory, concentration, and intellect.

      What’s more, cutting many foods that we consider “generally harmful” out of the diet improves brain function and reduces brain health risks.

      How does food improve brain health? Research proves that specific elements contained in the food positively influence molecular systems and support cognitive function.[1] Here’s how:

      • Amino acids support neurotransmitters, endogenous chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells. This helps keep the brain sharp.
      • Glucose is the main source of energy for human brain. Almost all energy that the brain consumes is derived from glucose.
      • Fatty acids strengthen nerve cells. They bring essential nutrients into brain cells and keep harmful toxins out.
      • Antioxidants protect brain cells by inhibiting oxidization, reducing its negative effects, and removing oxidizing agents from the body.

      Knowing what substances are good for brain health, it’s easier to choose a diet that improves memory, maintains brain health and protects it from damage factors. Many foods are known to have positive effects on cognitive health, so anyone can choose their favorite ones to include in their daily diet.

      10 Foods That Improve Your Brain

      1. Nuts and Seeds

      Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, contain fatty Omega-3 acids that the brain needs for its healthy function, and antioxidant vitamin E that protects nerve cells and reduces brain health risks.

      Whole grain, beans, and seeds – sunflower, pumpkin and others – are also a great source of amino acids and zinc that improve memory and contribute mental clarity.

      Nutritionists recommend consuming nuts and seeds as a healthy snack – a handful of them is enough to satisfy midday hunger and to cover your daily requirement of brain-supporting substances.

      2. Salmon and Other Fatty Fish

      Salmon is another source of omega-3 fatty acids that maintain brain health. Essential fatty acids contained in fatty fish, such as tuna, herring and sardines, have a protective effect on brain in the aging process by reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

      In a shorter-term perspective, they show positive effects on cognitive-behavioral health: they significantly reduce the risk and the symptoms of depression, ADHD, and anxiety.

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      3. Dark Green Vegetables

      Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, green leafy vegetables are known for their positive effects on general well-being and sharpness of mind.

      Additionally, such veggies as broccoli, avocado, or kale are powerful cancer fighters. They contain vitamin K that fights lack of concentration, prevents Alzheimer’s disease, and works as an anti-aging substance.

      Spinach, kale, and chard also contain brain-boosting vitamins B and iron that helps transfer oxygen to the brain.

      4. Dark Chocolate

      We often assume that healthy food is not tasty and our favorite sweets are unhealthy, but that’s not quite true.

      Combining the useful with the pleasant is possible when it comes to chocolate – and the darker the better: the best choice is 70% cocoa and more. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids that stimulate blood flow to the brain, and such elements as iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium that boost energy and support many body functions.

      Consuming cocoa improves cognitive function , reduces stress, and protects mental health.

      5. Tomatoes

      Tomatoes are packed with carotenoids that safeguard fat in the body. As brain is mainly made of fat, this function is especially important for it.

      Tomatoes are a great source of two carotenoid types: lycopene and beta-carotene. They are powerful antioxidants that protect brain cells from free-radical damage, regulate cell growth, have anti-aging effects, and improve memory.

      6. Eggs

      Many of us mostly consume eggs as a source of proteins, but they have much more value for our health. They contain choline that regulates enzymes essential for mental health.

      Eggs are a safe way to consume cholesterol that strengthens brain cells and structures. Apart from that, eggs are packed with antioxidants and healthy fats that nurture and protect the brain.

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      7. Berries

      Berries are a great source of vitamins that help our body function properly. They contain vitamins C and K, antioxidants, fiber, and many other important nutrients.

      Dark berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, and cherries, are a source of flavonoids that improve brain health and boost memory.

      And while fresh berries are usually a seasonal treat, dried and frozen ones are also rich in healthy nutrients and can be consumed throughout the entire year.

      8.Green tea

      Green tea has been being used as a medicine throughout the centuries.[2] The list of its benefits for health and well-being is very long – but we’ll focus here on its positive effects on brain. It is extremely rich in antioxidants that protect brain from harmful free radicals and reduce the risk of cancer.

      In 1494, Japanese scientists identified in green tea an amino acid called L-theanine. It promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep, helping maintain concentration, regulating emotions, and boosting cognitive abilities.

      9. Sage and rosemary

      Adding these herbs to your favorite dishes not only improves the taste, but also sharpen the mind, alleviate fatigue, and increase mental clarity.

      These herbs contain over 40 active compounds that benefit brain health and enhance cognitive activity. They promote focus, concentration, and calmness, which is essential for alertness and long-term memory.[3]

      10. Red wine

      While high levels of alcohol are destructive for overall well-being and for brain health in particular, small amounts of red wine are refreshing and vivifying for brain.

      Studies have shown that red wine, alongside with it relaxing effect, also improves the brain’s ability to remove harmful toxins by regulating the glymphatic system, reduces the risk of inflammation, and improves cognitive abilities and motor skills.[4]

      5 Foods That Harm the Brain

      We’ve figured out what food is healthy – but knowing what is to avoid is also essential for maintaining brain health, good memory and sharp focus. Here’s a list of the most harmful foods that impair memory, impact mood, and increase health risks:

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      1. Sugary Foods and Beverages

      Studies prove that higher sugar levels in the blood not only result in excessive body weight and increase the risk of diabetes – they also expose you to the risk of dementia.[5] That’s why rep lacing sugary drinks and foods with healthier products is essential.

      Consider consuming unsweetened tea, water, vegetable juice, and unsweetened dairy products instead.

      2. Trans Fats

      Trans fats, or unsaturated fatty acids, in small amounts occur in natural and healthy products, such as dairy and meat, where they’re are not a major concern. Much more harmful are industrially produced ones, which are used in snacks, packaged baked goods, and fast food.

      As there’s a relation between the intake of trans fats and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, World Health Organization introduced a guide to eliminate trans fats from the global food supply.

      3. Refined Carbohydrates

      Refined carbs include sugar and highly-processed grains – for example, white flour. Due to their high glycemic index (GI), they are considered harmful to brain: foods high in GI impair memory in both children and adults, increase inflammation risks and can cause degenerative diseases.

      A healthy alternative is whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits.

      4. Aspartame

      A thing that is considered “better than sugar”, but in fact is not better at all. It is efficient for losing weight because it has zero calories, but its components – phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid – have negative effects on cognitive abilities, mood, and alertness.

      A healthy choice recommended by experts is reducing the amount of sugar and artificial sweeteners in your diet, or cutting them out altogether.

      5. Alcohol

      While experts mention positive effects of moderate amounts of red wine on brain health, the excessive consumption of alcohol can cause severe problems that everyone needs to be aware of.

      Reduction in brain volume, metabolic problems, disruption of neurotransmitters are the most frequent negative effects. They cause memory loss, behavior disorders, and long-term brain damage.

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      Keep alcohol consumption moderate, or avoid it at all, especially if you already have any health risks.

      Bonus Advice…

      Just eating healthy food sometimes is obviously not enough for improving cognitive performance in the long-term perspective. The key to achieving the best result is getting healthy nutrients consistently. That’s why carefully balancing your daily meal is essential for staying focused and productive.

      Here’s some advice on what foods you can choose for your daily diet to boost your memory, concentration, and brain health:

      Breakfast

      A full and healthy breakfast is an efficient way to start your day productively – so never skip it!

      Oatmeal, berry smoothies, and eggs are traditional breakfast meals, and they are a great source of memory-boosting nutrients.

      Lunch

      It’s sometimes tempting to opt for fast food or packaged baked goods, but stay away from them if you want to stay healthy and energized.

      Sandwiches and salads with fish, green leafy vegetables, whole grain and chicken are a great choice for a light and healthy lunch.

      Dinner

      Again, don’t turn fast food into a habit – such options as seafood and fish, salads with tomatoes and green vegetables, kale, and whole-grain products energize your body and are a better choice for brain health and overall well-being.

      Snacks and Desserts

      Cookies and candies are a popular (and not really healthy) option for a snack or a dessert. Instead, try choosing healthier meals for your snack. Walnuts or almonds, fresh fruit or berries (depending on the season), or fruit and nut mix give a powerful energy boost.

      And don’t forget that dark chocolate is also a healthy choice for a dessert!

      The Bottom Line

      Improving and maintaining memory, focus and cognitive abilities is crucial for a full and active life. Choosing healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy ones helps support brain health in both short-term and long-term perspective. Keep your diet consistent, and combine good food habits with exercise, healthy sleep regime and reasonable work-life balance to achieve best results.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Evans via unsplash.com

      Reference

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