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Discuss: The Willpower Instinct

Book: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Feel free to come even if you haven't read the book, just read the summary below.

We'll meet in the cafeteria in the Atrium, in front of Chickpea. There will be a small sign on the table.


The model of the brain is that there are different parts that want different things. When the parts disagree, we have a "willpower challenge". In this scenario, the decision is kicked to some higher subroutine in the prefrontal cortex, which takes energy.

  • Sleep and meditation: For former addicts, highly correlated with resisting relapse. Why? fMRI reveals sleep lack leads to less activity in the prefrontal cortex, where willpower challenges are decided.

  • Feeling regret diminishes future willpower. Better to be mindful of a lapse, and non judgmentally develop a positive intention for the future. (experiments about dieters and drinkers).

  • Concretely imagining and identifying with your future self helps you develop willpower. Specific exercises were suggested, could be useful for meet-ups.

  • Defensive pessimism. Imagine how/why you will fail at your goal. Imagine concrete steps. Write it all down, revise when something different happens.

  • Visualize strong cravings as a wave. Watch the wave, and let it pass by. Doing this under stressful circumstances helped cut future stress-related urges.

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  • Jenny

    The event will either meet at Stone Creek or the Atrium CitiGroup. I'll update you in the next week after I confirm.

    August 25, 2012

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