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