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Willpower Ted Talk Summary

The Brain Train Coach quick notes on Willpower Ted Talk by Kelly McGonigal

The Science of Willpower

The Stanford researcher and professor, Mcgonigal, teaches a class on the Science of Willpower. Here she relates a brief research history on the addictive centers of the brain with a view towards how we use willpower to battle these behavioral troubles.

Here are the main points you will learn:

  1. The 5 Myths of Willpower.
  2. What modern science can teach us.
  3. How to rethink your approach to Willpower to achieve a higher level of self-satisfaction.

The Brain Train Coach Power Points

Willpower takes effort; willpower takes energy.

Instead, use those same energies to create a better autopilot awareness system which will work for you automatically instead of you always burning energy to fight ‘not doing something’.

It can be that simple when you practice mindful awareness and get good at it.

Here’s the quick summary: use it to super-learn the concepts.

  • Myth #1: The mistake of using willpower in the ‘wanting happiness’ part of the brain instead of using it in the actions associated with feeling happy.
  • Myth #2: We use Willpower as a measure of our own virtue. (Wouldn’t happiness, compassion and success be a better way measure?)
  • Myth #3: Guilt and Shame are great willpower motivators. (Hear in the talk how Science proves this is the opposite.)
  • Myth #4: We believe we need to change our inner thoughts before we can change our behaviors. (Actions always help us change; just start doing it first.)
  • Myth #5: We use willpower to challenge our toughness/beat ourselves up. (When we should use it to build ourselves up.)

The more you use willpower to overpower your desires, the harder it is and for most, the more you will fail. Instead use willpower to train your own awareness of your desires and accept them; this along with forgiveness and positive alternatives will lead to greater success.

Use willpower as a muscle; small tasks and willpower awareness training leads to accomplishing bigger goals later as your willpower awareness muscles grow.

In overcoming the stress events we typically use our willpower energies to do, McGonigal says instead to use “techniques like mindfulness meditation” and that it is

one of the most promising areas of research in the Science of Willpower.

Here is an example of a simple, easy way to learn mindfulness with a fun biofeedback exercise:

Alive Biofeedback Incoming Tides

Click this Incoming Tides Image to see how you can become mindfully aware.

You can view the entire presentation here, please note that this is not a well done video recording by Ted Talks standards.

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