Reading Notes: the Willpower Instinct

Finished the book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. And want to share some notes, mainly taking-away messages.

  • Simple (scientific) ways to improve willpower: physical exercises, breath slower, relax, sleep well.
  • Willpower is like muscle. It will exhaust when being used too much. This means 1) do willpower-challenging stuffs first, 2) do willpower workout to make it stronger.
  • We feel good when finishing some willpower challenges, and are inclined to do something "bad" (e.g. eating unhealthy after workout). Solution: ask how you did committing to the goal, instead of how is the progress.
  • Dopamine is the chemical for desire. The stores/restaurants are trying to manipulate us by encouraging our body to produce more dopamine.
  • When we feel bad (didn't accomplish the willpower challenges), don't be angry or disappointed. Forgive yourself will bring more willpower.
  • Trying to forbid something will only make it more appealing. Instead, accept it, feel the desire, and recognize you don't have to respond to the craving.
  • The key of willpower is to pause and think. Don't follow your pulse in autopilot. The key is to recognize when we automatically made the decision, i.e. when we need willpower.

Generally I feel this book is a good read. There are quite some insights, which I never thought about before. There are also a lot of things I only had a rough feeling about, and then see formal studies in the book.



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