February 28, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Ok … this week I will give you what I think are some of the high points from Kelly McGonigal incredible book, The Willpower Instinct. These are more of those notes taken from my summary sheets that I make and keep from the best books I read and want to revisit and remember.

The Willpower Instinct is a truly life changing book if you put the concepts and findings into practice.  I highly recommend you get it and read it carefully.  Below are the points that jumped out at me. In some cases I am giving you quotes and in others I am giving a summary in my own words.  The subtitle of the book is great: “How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More”. The book covers all this and more.

Mark’s notes from The Willpower Instinct:

P. 20 Most of our choices are made on autopilot.

P. 20 Self-awareness is one big key to will power.

P. 21 When you are distracted, your impulses usually over rule your long term goals.

P. 21 To have more self-control, develop more self-awareness.

P. 23 The brain is remarkably responsive to experience.

P. 24 Ask your brain to _____________________________ (you fill in anything you really want) and your brain ends up helping you do it.

P. 26 Meditate on a regular basis — it will help you increase self-control. For example: lose weight, kick bad habits, etc. Meditate 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

P. 42, 43 Exercise is like meditation it makes the brain bigger and faster and improves willpower.

P. 43 A big mood booster is a simple 5 minute walk outside.

P. 45 Exercise gives you more energy than you spend.

P. 69 If you are looking for a big change of any habit, look for small ways to practice self-control.

P. 129 When we free ourselves from the false promise of reward we often find the thing we were seeking happiness from was the main source of our misery.

P. 132 We must distinguish between wanting and happiness.

P. 144 Many studies show that self-criticism gives less motivation and worse self-control and is the biggest predictor of depression.

So, without even reading the book, you can see the value of the information just in these notes. And how easy is it to review and remind oneself of this great information this way?

Active Reading

February 14, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Great books can do great things for you in your life. They certainly have for me and I use a simple method to make sure I don’t forget what I’ve learned from the best books I’ve read. It’s really simple and I highly recommend you give it a try.

First, as I read, I underline the best points made by the author, the ones that jump out at me and instruct, inspire and motivate. Next I make a note in the front or back of the book, with the page number and a short summary of what struck me as a real gem. After I have finished the book I take an 8” X 11” piece of card stock paper and transfer all the page numbers and quotes onto that paper. Then, anytime I need a mental, emotional or motivational push I quickly and easily review my notes of a particular book. It’s easy and simple.

As I have said in the past, and as it was preached to me by my mentor Paul J. Meyer, “It’s better to re-read or re-view over and over, 20 or 30 or 100 great books than to read 1,000 average books”. I have never forgotten that and it have served my life and dreams very well.

In looking through my stack of 8 X 11 cards I see my notes on books like “Satisfaction”, “Outliers”, “Flow”, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, “Tipping Point”, “Fat Chance”, The Power of Now”, “The Willpower Instinct”, The Four Doors”, and of course a couple of my books “The Next Step to Waking up the Financial Genius Inside You”, “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. That is to name just a few. Next week I will give you a few of what I think are the best short summary statements from a few of those books to show you exactly what I mean, what jumps out at me and what helps me like I am pretty sure it can help you.

Beating Yourself Up vs. Forgiving Yourself

August 23, 2013 by  
Filed under blog

My daughter Cammy teaches yoga and has persuaded me to go a number of times–and yes my creaky body certainly benefits from all that posing and stretching–but her comments to the class at the end of each session finally got through to my brain. I’ve been over the top surprised about what a powerful and life enhancing message she was delivering all this time and it had totally passed me by.

Her simple statements didn’t sink in until I was re-reading Kelly McGonigal’s wonderful book The Willpower Instinct. My daughter would end all of her yoga classes saying “Thank yourself for putting forth the effort to come today and please cultivate more and more compassion for yourself–don’t be hard on yourself.” I’ve always thought her words were pretty good advice but WOW have I made a great discovery that puts those words in a category much, much greater than just “good advice”. Let me explain.

Anyone that reads my blogs knows I am a huge advocate of setting lots of goals, and tough ones, for yourself. I preach that all the time to anyone who will listen. My big time discovery is that I realized that when I fell short of my goals I’d been doing exactly the wrong thing to myself, the very thing that hurts me and makes it even more difficult to reach new goals in the future. What I’ve been doing (and you probably have been doing the same thing) is this: When I fail or fall short of a goal I beat myself up mentally and I certainly don’t have any compassion for myself. I, like most people, think that if I forgive myself for falling short of my goal, I’ll just do it again. However, that is simply not true.

As it turns out, research done by two psychologists from Louisiana State University and Duke University show that it’s forgiveness of self, not guilt and beating yourself up that increases your accountability. I was shocked. I read this in McGonigal’s book where she goes on to say “These findings fly in the face of our instincts. How can this be, when so many of us have a strong intuition that self-criticism is the cornerstone of self-control, and self-compassion is a slippery slope to self-indulgence?” But in this case our instinct is dead wrong!

This very smart and well-spoken author also mentions that “One reason forgiveness helps people recover from mistakes is that it takes away the shame and pain of thinking about what happened. The what-the-hell effect is an attempt to escape the bad feelings that follow a setback. Without the guilt and self-criticism, there’s nothing to escape. This means it’s easier to reflect on how the failure happened, and less tempting to repeat it.”

Isn’t that fascinating? We’ll talk more on this subject next week but in the meantime try forgiving yourself daily for any failure or falling short of what you have set out for yourself. Take time to give yourself great dosages of compassion and, yes, it’s okay to love yourself and a lot. Talk to yourself and give praise and love like you would to a kid that you love.

Willpower Awareness

August 3, 2012 by  
Filed under blog

So, as I was mentioning last week, I have this goal to be in the best shape of my life. There is no reason that I can’t achieve my goals. But it will take a lot of work and dedication. That is the issue—not whether I can achieve this but keeping with the program.

I was just 10 days into my new program when I found myself breaking some of my work out and eating goals. Ouch! That pissed me off at myself. Not sticking with my goals was the bad news but there was good news and its news that can help anybody who is serious about setting and sticking with their goals.

What I did was to go back to that great book by Kelly McGonigal PhD, “The Willpower Instinct: How Self Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”. I have this habit of skipping around in books to quickly find the real gems and in doing that I often miss key points. This was one such book. To my great delight, this time around I discovered a few critical secrets that I totally missed before.

I am going to give you just a couple of her gems starting this week and then adding to them in the next week or two. Kelly’s advises readers to try only one new strategy per week so here are a couple options.

1. Get To Know Yourself: Know when and where and why you are likely to give up on your goal. You must be able to see how and why you stop short. So this week I am going to work on becoming more aware of when I am making choices related to my will power. I think it is quite reassuring to know that everyone struggles in some way with temptation, addiction, distraction and procrastination. These are not weaknesses but simply part of the human condition and something we can work on.

2. Pay Attention to How You Talk to Yourself About Your Willpower: What do you say to yourself when you procrastinate and how do you judge your willpower shortcomings and successes?

Put just one of these ideas into practice. Once you become more aware of where the temptation is coming from and what you tell yourself that gives you permission to give up, you will be better able to halt that behavior and stick to your goals.

Check back next week for another couple great ideas.

The White Bear Experiment

May 4, 2012 by  
Filed under blog

I am sure, like me, you know some people who seem to have an endless supply of willpower and others that don’t seem to have a single once of it. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. And of course what we hope to find is “the secret” or a “formula” that will give us what we need. You might not believe this but researchers have uncovered a kind of secret that can be used by just about everyone that will amp up a person’s willpower. And it’s already, literally, there in your head.

First let me tell you about the “white bear” experiment. A number of years ago a professor at Trinity University in Texas instructed a number of students to NOT think about white bears for 5 minutes. Well they tried but they couldn’t do it. In fact the harder they tried the more that white bear thought would pop into their minds. Kelly McGonigal PhD, in her book The Willpower Instinct says, “The effect was strongest when people were already stressed out, tired or distracted.” Daniel Wegner, the professor that conducted the experiment, dubbed “this effect” as the “ironic rebound”. You push a thought away and it just boomerangs back.

Now what the heck does this have to do with a “breakthrough” to increase your willpower? Well, Kelly McGonigal goes on to explain in her book that “thought suppression” doesn’t work because of how our brains are wired but we can work around it. You’ll want to read her book to get the details about this but what I can tell you right now is a little about how to work with what your brain does. What you do is accept that bad or wrong thought which will give you great power to lead your brain to where you want it to be and very likely change or direct your behavior into something more positive and constructive. Here are just a few of Kelly’s suggestions that you can try yourself when you need more self-discipline or willpower.

1—Notice when are thinking about your temptation or feeling a craving.
2—Accept the thought or feeling without trying to immediately distract yourself or argue with it. Remind yourself of the white-bear rebound effect.
3—Step back by realizing that thoughts and feelings aren’t always under your control, but you can choose whether to act on them.
4—Remember your goal. Remind yourself of whatever your commitment is and what it means to you.

**If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?

Improving your Will Power

April 6, 2012 by  
Filed under blog

My son David gave me a great book for my 68th birthday. It’s called “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal, PH.D. with the sub title of “How Self-Control works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”. Wow that is an attention grabbing title!

Yes I know I have done a ton of preaching about the “key” or “secret” of reaching your goals–that being my concept of “B-RAM”. I discuss it at length on pages 71 through 81 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living“. But Kelly’s book ads a whole new dimension to our understanding of how the brain works and how you can program it for your own success.

Kelly discusses the advantages we gain from things like self-awareness, meditation and even 5 or 10 minutes of exercise and backs it all up with science. The ability to set great goals in your life and reach them more consistently can be gained through these methods. Your brain can even be physically changed by what you send though it. And it doesn’t matter what those goals are—anything from losing weight, to overcoming an addiction to being a better parent or making a ton of money.

Most of us think the only way our brains change is by deteriorating as we get older. But Kelly points out that over the last decade, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain stays remarkably responsive to experience. Ask your brain to do math every day, and it gets better at math. Ask your brain to worry, and it gets better at worrying. Ask your brain to concentrate, and it gets better at concentrating. “There is growing scientific evidence that you can train your brain to get better at self-control,” Kelly says.

Next week I will give you more hints and steps that you and I can take to build more will power and self-control so as to bolster our goal setting abilities.

If you like what you’ve read in this blog please send it on to people you know and love, to people who you think this message and information may be very helpful. There is nothing in the world that brings greater satisfaction than helping other people. Don’t you agree?