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Book Freak - Issue #78: Kelly McGonigal’s Advice for Getting More Self-Control

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Book Freak

January 18 · Issue #78 · View online

Short pieces of advice from books


This issue of Book Freak presents four pieces of advice from The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, by Kelly McGonigal

Give up control of your inner experiences
“The willingness to think what you think and feel what you feel — without necessarily believing that it is true, and without feeling compelled to act on it — is an effective strategy for treating anxiety, depression, food cravings, and addiction. As we consider the evidence for each, we’ll see that giving up control of our inner experiences gives us greater control over our outer actions.”
Use the power of paying attention
“If there is a secret for greater self-control, the science points to one thing: the power of paying attention. It’s training the mind to recognize when you’re making a choice, rather than running on autopilot.”
Focus on your commitment, not your progress
“When people who have taken a positive step toward meeting a goal—for example, exercising, studying, or saving money—are asked, “How much progress do you feel you have made on your goal?” they are more likely to then do something that conflicts with that goal, like skip the gym the next day, hang out with friends instead of studying, or buy something expensive.” 
Slow your breathing down
“You won’t find many quick fixes in this book, but there is one way to immediately boost willpower: Slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute. That’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath—slower than you normally breathe, but not difficult with a little bit of practice and patience. Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges.”
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