Willpower: IT IS IN YOUR HEAD!

In this morning’s NY Times, Greg Walton (Asst Prof of Psychology @ Stanford) and Carol Dweck (professor of psychology at Stanford and the author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”) shared research in an article titled Willpower – It’s in Your Head.  Good article that I would recommend reading in its entirety.  Key excerpts:

  •  “In research we conducted…, we confirmed that willpower can indeed be quite limited — but only if you believe it is. When people believe that willpower is fixed and limited, their willpower is easily depleted. But when people believe that willpower is self-renewing — that when you work hard, you’re energized to work more; that when you’ve resisted one temptation, you can better resist the next one — then people successfully exert more willpower. It turns out that willpoweris in your head.
  • “How does this happen? People who think that willpower is limited are on the lookout for signs of fatigue. When they detect fatigue, they slack off. People who get the message that willpower is not so limited may feel tired, but for them this is no sign to give up — it’s a sign to dig deeper and find more resources.”
  • “To be sure, willpower is not completely unlimited. Food and rest are of course necessary for functioning, and many struggles that people face are quite difficult. The question is how often we need extra sugar boosts. Messages suggesting that willpower is severely limited and that we need constant sugar boosts are bound to further inflate the American waistline and hinder our ability to achieve our goals.”
  • “At stake in this debate is not just a question about the nature of willpower. It’s also a question of what kind of people we want to be. Do we want to be a people who dismiss our weaknesses as unchangeable? When a student struggles in math, should we tell that student, “Don’t worry, you’re just not a math person”? Do we want him to give up in the name of biology? Or do we want him to work harder in the spirit of what he wants to become?”
Image Source: livelifeready.com

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