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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 September 18, 2020

      How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

      How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

      Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

      Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

      Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

      1. Meditate

      We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

      Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

      Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

      Fortunately, meditation can help.

      Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

      While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

      Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

      However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

      2. Get Plenty of Sleep

      If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

      If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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      If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

      Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

      If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

        Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

        Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

        • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
        • Don’t eat too late
        • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

        Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

        However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

        3. Challenge Your Brain

        When was the last time you challenged your brain?

        I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

        To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

        Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

        There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

        • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
        • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
        • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

        If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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        Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

        4. Take More Breaks

        When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

        At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

        However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

        Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

        One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

        This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

        When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

        It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

        Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

        5. Learn a New Skill

        I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

        “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

        From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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        Let me give you an example of this:

        Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

        Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

        The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

        Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

        It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

        Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

        If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

        6. Start Working out

        If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

        Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

        Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

        Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

        Interested in getting started?

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        Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

        • Join a gym
        • Join a sports team
        • Buy a bike
        • Take up hiking
        • Dance to your favorite music

        7. Eat Healthier Foods

        I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

        This applies to your brain, too.

        The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

        Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

        Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

        If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

        • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
        • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
        • Nuts – Improves memory
        • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
        • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

        Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

        Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

        Final Thoughts

        I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

        You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

        But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

        More on How to Improve Memory

        Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

        Reference

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