Self Control / Willpower

10 Mar

The lecture was awesome. Willpower and Self Control by Roy Baumeister.

Fascinating conclusions based on many years of study of the area and he discussed some of the many interesting studies he did.

He defined self control as the ability to resist urges or desires. You could also call it the ability to focus (i.e. resist distractions).

His first analogy to describe our ability is that of a limited energy supply, or Ego Depletion. People that have made a lot of effort to resist urges deplete their energy store and hence are less able to resist temptation, e.g. to eat a chocolate cookie.

Making complex decisions also depletes this energy.

(Hence, one should not leave work late having fully depleted ones store as it can then lead to strife at home as one is more likely to descend into argument!)

The second analogy is of a muscle. So the more you practise the better you get at self control.

He discussed tricks to improve self control. People that achieved best in their experiments in self control, those with the strongest willpower, weren’t necessarily better at resisting overall. Rather they were good at choosing when to apply their willpower, how to avoid tempting situations in the first place (e.g. don’t have a cupboard full of chocolate at home in the first place), and more interestingly when to give into temptation. And not feel guilty about it.

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2 Responses to “Self Control / Willpower”

  1. 5i5i February 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

    Well, here’s an interesting alternative view. http://nautil.us/issue/45/power/against-willpower

    And in fact the recommendation to not think about willpower is useful, when you look at the alternative of reframing so you can shift your focus so that it’s not effortful to do / think something any more.

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  1. Mindfulness | unfebuckinglievable - November 8, 2013

    […] all, it is at its core, exercising the ability to focus. Focus can be considered a synonym for willpower, which has been proven to be something we can […]

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