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“I think. So I can change who I am.” Walter Mischel

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The brain is such a powerful tool.

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It can help us obtain amazing achievements.

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These achievements are possible thanks to two contributors: The brain’s elasticity(*) (*) See my previous presentation on this topic. Willpower

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This slideshow will explain what willpower is and how to improve it.

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If we go backwards towards the beginning of evolution…

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We will find a long period of time where humans were not safe.

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Our brain has developed strategies to satisfy the primary needs of any living species : Surviving Reproducing

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These strategies are still coded in our brains. They are attributes of the human species.

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Let’s call the part of our brain that manages these instinctual behaviors to satisfy primary needs, the warm brain.

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Humans have developed unique skills such as anticipated planning and reasoned decision making.

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Let’s call the part of our brain that manages the analytical and cognitive capabilities, the cold brain.

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Both brains interact and are useful to every human.

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The warm brain will select chocolate, as it will procure more sugar, thus producing more energy to survive. The cold brain will select the apple, as it is healthier for long term survival and there is no immediate danger of starvation.

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In the case of immediate danger, the warm brain will take the lead for the safety of the human.

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The willpower is the ability of our cold brain to control the impulses of our warm brain.

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Knowing that willpower is a standard cognitive capability, we can deduce several of its characteristics.

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First, just like with cognitive capacities, willpower depends on our genetic patrimony.

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Thus, all of us have different levels of willpower.

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We all have the same capability to transform and improve our own willpower.

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Secondly, instinctual behaviors are different depending on the context and domain (thus, the strategy to control them too).

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It means that some people have good willpower in some domains and others, bad. Willpower is not a global or constant quality in people.

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Cognitive activities consume energy. The more control used to manage impulsion, the more energy that is consumed.

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Thus, don’t use your willpower for too many things. You must allow your brain to rest after intense use of willpower.

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Summary- 4 Things to Know: We have different susceptibility towards willpower. We have the same capability to improve our willpower. There is no one willpower but different willpowers depending on the kind of impulse to control. Willpower consumes energy.

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“Ok, but how can I improve my willpower ?”

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Remember, there is no “one willpower” but several willpowers.

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Just like any other cognitive activities, willpower is a network of activated neurons.

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The network of activated neurons can be changed through experiences. It is the elasticity of the brain.

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The more the network of neurons are activated, the less it requires resources to be activated. When we use a strategy to control a certain impulse for the first time, it requires a lot of energy. Then, when you have made a habit of this behavior, it doesn’t require as much intense energy.

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So, if you want to improve your willpower for a particular behavior, you should: Identify the stimulus activating your instinctual answers coming from the warm brain. Propose an alternative behavior to this stimulus. Make it a habit by repeating the alternative behavior.

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If you want to discover more about willpower, I strongly recommend this book:

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Thank you !!! Follow me on twitter : @SebastienJuras Credit : photos – 123rf.com Discover the successful stories about brain on my website: sebastienjuras.net/my-stories/