Sunday, May 10, 2015

by Kelly McGonigal

  • Is the opposite of fight-or-flight (36)
  • Starts with perception of internal conflict (vs. external threat)
    • Triggers changes in brain (prefrontal cortex) and body => lower heart rate, blood pressure stays normal, breathing slow, muscles relax (37)
    • Helps slow down/control impulses => time for more flexible thoughtful action
  • Internal conflict is it’s own kind of threat: you want something, but know you shouldn’t or you know you should do something, but you’d rather not

  • Heart rate variability: higher => more willpower (39)
  • Anything that puts stress on mind/body interferes with willpower
  • Anything that reduces stress/improves health strengthens willpower (39)
    • Meditation, spiritual practice, time with loved ones
    • Exercise, sleep, healthy diet

  • Improves self-control skills: focus, stress management, impulse control, self-awareness
  • How-to: Sit still/stay put, Attn to breath, Notice mind wanders, Return to breath (26)
  • Short daily meditations better than long but infrequent

  • Think of exercise as something that restores energy and willpower (45)
  • Can’t do the “I will”? Find the “I won’t” (48)
  • Find the “want” that’s more powerful for you (76)
  • Focus on your commitment (vs your progress) (91) – life span practice (vs short term)

Some exercises:
  • Breathe your way to self control (40)
  • Willpower fill-up (44)
  • Relaxation (50-1)
  • Willpower workout: strengthen I Won’t, I Will and Self-Monitoring (68)
  • What’s your "want" power? (74)
  • Focus on the commitment (91)
  • Tomorrow just like today: reduce variability in the behavior, ask “do I really want the consequences of continually doing (or avoiding) this?” (96)
  • Self inventory: do you identify more w/your goals/values or w/your impulses/desires? (104)
  • Dopaminize your “I Will” power challenge (124)
  • Stress of desire (126)
  • Most effective stress release (137): exercising, spiritual practice, reading, listening to music, time w/loved ones, walk, massage, meditation, doing something creative
  • Pessimism for success (154)
  • Precommit to your future self (169)
  • Meet your future self (179-180)
  • Turn “I Won’t” into “I Will” (228)
  • Surf the Urge (231-2) – "urge" can be any destructive impulse, big or small

Small Move, Big Change => the power of microresolutions

Changes in doing lead to changes in being

Microresolution - 7 rules


  • Limited, reasonable, achievable (9, 14); don’t make a microresolution you can’t keep
  • Attn to size (determine if it's better to do more at one time or more frequent but in smaller batches?) (46)
  • Self-improvement happens around the edges = the vital margin (6)


  • What, when, where and how it’ll be cued (22)
  • What = must be explicit and measurable action (15)
  • Cue (time, activity, situation/impulse), if contextual link to an existing habit (floss when brushing teeth)

Immediate payoff

  • The benefit provided by the microresolution today is the goal (26)
  • Focus on your commitment (vs. a step in overall progress), savor this immediate present success


  • Rx that you write for yourself
  • Adjust and tweak as needed (34)


  • Do this by reframing: positive/inspiring: “I enjoy ___ more when I’m___” (37)
  • Zero-tolerance – use this sparingly (for trigger of big negative actions), best if it’s a quick 5-min-max action (42)

Fires on cue

  • Pair an identified cue w/resolved response (58)
  • Know your triggers allows you to pick best cue for the microresolution (59)

Two at a time (66)

  • It takes energy to establish a new normal (147)
  • Gradually, over time, you’ll make real and lasting changes

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 reading...

  • Arabic Graffiti – Pascal Zoghbi
  • Bellocq’s Ophelia – Natasha Trethewey
  • Stet: A Memoir – Diana Athill
  • Too Close to the Falls – Catherine Gildiner
  • I’m Down: A Memoir – Mishna Wolff
  • Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story – Peter Bagge
  • Artist’s Way at Work – Bryan
  • Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol – Nell Irvin Painter
  • The History of White People – Nell Irvin Painter
  • Racism Without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America – Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Quest – Aaron Becker
  • Under the Egg – Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • Like No Other – Una LaMarche
  • Circle of Cranes – Annette LeBox
  • Under a Painted Sky – Stacey Lee
  • Nuts to You – Lynne Rae Perkins

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Las palabras

HESTI - Jakarta (from Arabic Grafitti)
  • eft - young newt
  • nene - Hawaii's state bird
  • rara avis - rare bird
  • pia mater - brain covering
  • quire - 4pp folded = 8 leaves
  • aril - seed coat
  • ora pro nobis - pray for us
  • sere - bone dry
  • sloe - blackthorn
  • senesce - age
  • celerity - haste
  • ria - narrow inlet
  • ait - river islet
  • enate - maternal
  • coir - rope fiber
  • apsis - orbital point
  • olla - earthen pot
  • oeno - wine prefix
  • ell - measure of length
  • solon - member of a legislature
  • otoscope - canal exploration device
  • Irene - of of the Horae
  • cyan - blue green
  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    The Art of Travel - The Art of Mind(fulness)

    I've been meaning to read Alain De Botton's The Art of Travel for some time, but it wasn't until another MMM (see blog review below) reader recommended it that I finally took the time to get it from the library.

    There is psychological pleasure in...takeoff...for the swiftness of the plane's ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives... (38-9)

    What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home. (77)

    John Ruskin's teaching people drawing as way to teach people to look, to see (vs. photography used less as a "supplement to active conscious seeing" and more as a way of possessing to the world around them. (219)

    Xavier de Maistre's Journey Around My Bedroom suggests that "the pleasure we derive from a journey may be dependent more on the mind-set we travel with than on the destination we travel to." Invitation: apply traveling mind-set (receptivity) to our own locales. (242)

    Sunday, September 7, 2014

    Retire early - Grow a mustache

    Usually I review books here, but now it's time for a website.

    Mr. Money Mustache

    Ever since I read the book Your Money Or Your Life back in the early 1990s, I've been living below my means, with no debt - called "voluntary simplicity" by some. But, even so, I never thought I could actually retire early (I don't make much, thought I'd have to have tons invested, etc.)

    The MMM blog taught me how to calculate what I will actually need to retire and gave me concrete information on ways to further reduce my expenses. Best of all is the MMM community where ideas are shared, questions answered and you get even more inspired.

    I'm energized and excited to have found these tools and this community. I'll never stop doing work I love, but I'll no longer have to earn money - big difference.

    The sense of freedom I now have is precious - I no longer have to wait to soar.