April 03, 2008
What Limits Your Willpower
Here's an interesting NY Times read about willpower, apparently the number one read story in yesterday's issue. Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind.
The suggestion is that the "brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals."
According to the piece, "activities that deplete willpower include resisting food or drink, suppressing emotional responses, restraining aggressive or sexual impulses, taking exams and trying to impress someone. Task persistence is also reduced when people are stressed or tired from exertion or lack of sleep."
So what limits willpower, they ask? They say that "foods that persistently elevate blood sugar, like those containing protein or complex carbohydrates, might enhance willpower for longer periods."
This paragraph is the most interesting part: "concentrating your effort on one or at most a few goals at a time increases the odds of success. Like a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use. The idea of exercising willpower is seen in military boot camp, where recruits are trained to overcome one challenge after another.
In psychological studies, even something as simple as using your nondominant hand to brush your teeth for two weeks can increase willpower capacity. Whatever the explanation, consistently doing any activity that requires self-control seems to increase willpower — and the ability to resist impulses and delay gratification is highly associated with success in life."
Of course the brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation. This is also basic feng shui btw. By eliminating old things that no longer serve you, you eliminate stagnate energy. It always made sense to me intellectually but I had no clue how much energy would open up by following through on this concept. This even includes things like old books on your bookshelf. And old photos.
Once the 'old' is out of the way, your brain and heart has time to focus on new energy (from new books, new ideas, new people) that better serve you for what is happening in your present life, rather than constant reinforcement to your past: the old ideas, even if they were great ones.
None of this has really helped me with willpower or has it and its so subtle that we lose track of our shifts? Perhaps even my transition to the west coast may be an indirect result of clearing out the old and bringing in the new. That and visualization techniques, which I'm a huge fan of. But that my friends is a whole other story.
Photo: A Grand Design
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My name is John M. Glionna and I'm a reporter for the LA Times in San Francisco. I'm working on a story on a story about the closing of neighborhood bars in SF and saw your Last Supper Club blog items and was wondering if you had time for a brief interview? If you send me your number at the above address, I'll give you a call.
John M. Glionna
Posted by: John M. Glionna | Apr 14, 2008 4:58:51 PM
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