17 May 2014

The Willpower Instinct (my unpolished book summary)

Ironically, I listened to THE WILLPOWER INSTINCT while procrastinating writing (and working on SONG OF LOCKE cover designs, which is crucial but not urgent). As I was a little distracted, I didn’t get a ton out of it or take proper notes. But here goes.

It reinforces Ramit’s ideas about putting your credit card in a block of ice or moving your alarm clock across the room. I always thought I was too smart for playing tricks on myself, but I’m as human as anyone else, it seems.

It talked about how we think our future selves will be able to do all kind of heavy lifting or whatever that our present selves can’t. In other words, we overestimate our power in the future. Best to get it done now, because you’ll probably feel the same tomorrow.

It also said that simple meditation can help you regain your willpower. It’s a good thing to get into the habit of on a daily basis. Doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. But spend a couple minutes breathing before you dive into your choice. (He said most find it easiest to simply slow your exhaling.) Often that will be enough to get you back in the right state of mind.

Your blood sugar has a huge impact on your will. If you’re low on blood sugar, all kinds of bad things can happen.

Your willpower is an exhaustible resource, so don’t spend it unwisely.

The tactic of delaying a choice for ten minutes can be helpful too. Tell yourself you can have it, but only after 10 minutes. A now cookie is much harder to resist than an in-ten-minutes cookie.

He said to pay attention (be mindful!) of what makes you happy and what doesn’t. I was playing a silly game on my phone, and noticed the little DOPAMINE! kicks that I’d get every time I finished a silly level, even though it wasn’t very rewarding a second later. Being mindful of dopamine, though, seems like a great idea.

He also said envisioning your future self can help you form a better, more concrete connection so that your present self doesn’t get too lazy at his expense.

Well, it seems I was paying better attention than I though.

It’s a good book, one I think my future self should read a second time.

Good luck, future me.

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