Ever wonder why we are often most drawn to do the things we want most to avoid?
We have all felt the power of being caught in the pull of our own pictures. The little fellow above has been told if he can only resist eating the delicious marshmallow in front of him he will receive another when the researcher returns. Oh the temptation! How long is she going to be gone? Did she forget about me? What if I just had a little lick?
If you think this is fun and games then you haven’t been grocery shopping lately.
Have you ever wondered why they arrange grocery stores so you enter in the produce aisle? It’s architecturally insane. Who thought this was a good idea? The most delicate items will end up at the bottom of the cart. Marketers that’s who. And these are not your parent’s poltergeists of purchasing. These are number crunching, pattern predicting sleuths of psychology. They know you better than you know yourself.
It is no surprise to them that 80% of Americans don’t eat the prescribed three servings of vegetables each day. Isn’t it nice of them to help you along with the first thing you need on your list. Before you label these sellers as saints consider their incentive for “helping” improve your shopping experience. Cauliflower $1.89 perfect, is that fresh-baked bread I smell? Placed conveniently past your conscience calming celery purchase there it is, chocolate cake. Now that your self-image of self-control is satiated, you’re primed to purchase that colossus of calories having already paid the toll of self-control.
Why are our inner drives essential to understand? Remember the little boy trying desperately not to gobble down that little snowball of sugar? In the original study, and each time it has been repeated,
“children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”
Awareness in Action:
My friend Rick Powers is a brilliant interviewer. He likes to interview people in groups asking unusual questions like “If you were a vegetable, what kind of would you be?” I always thought this was a wonderful way to test their creativity and authenticity under pressure. Then he told me the real secret. What he was looking for was not from the individual being asked the question, but from observing the other participants in the process. Those who succumbed to the immediate gratification (marshmallow) of clowning, fawning or flirting with the other participants not currently being interviewed were not the team players he was looking for.
How many times have you wished you could have known then what you know now?
Stop wishing and start studying. It’s not a secret it’s science.
I have been fascinated by the evolution of applied neuroscience for almost four decades.
Research based on advances in technology in the last five years, have turned everything I thought I knew upside down. It is exciting and more than a little disconcerting to realize why so many of our solutions, from improving engagement to reducing stress, are based on misunderstanding what REALLY drives our behaviors.
The Science of Self Control is based on the latest studies in neuroscience including the immensely popular course “The Science of Willpower” taught at Stanford University. Detailed in her book The Willpower Instinct ,” Dr. McGonigal reveals the sources, and solutions, to some of life’s most perplexing problems.
- Why are we irresistibly drawn to do the very things we want most to avoid?
- How do things like sleep, diet, and stress derail our self-control?
- Why are guilt and shame the LEAST effective strategies for changing behavior?
- A system for separating the pull of desire from the pleasure of peace.
- Why behaving in principle may encourage misbehavior in practice.
- What’s the difference between will-power, won’t-power and want-power?
- When is self-discipline self-destructive?
- Why don’t we “care” for our future selves through present actions?
- Simple steps for overcoming temptation.
- How to use dopamine to drive your discipline.
- Understanding the evolutionary purpose of some very ineffective impulses.
- How we can displace unproductive behaviors with re-energizing habits.
- Understanding the role of self-awareness in impulse control.
Imagine a team not controlled by controversy, stressed by situations or distracted by discontent.
- We are all overwhelmed by too much to do and too little time to think but what if being aware of why we think the way we think could change all that?
- What if understanding our chemistry could truly set-us-free? Free from anger, resentment, guilt, and shame. Free from manipulation, indignation and utter stagnation.
- What would it be like to work in an environment free of fear. Impervious to intimidation and actually excited about all the trial and error that comes with innovation.
- How would the way you manage yourself, and others change if you knew for a fact that our brains don’t learn until we make mistakes?
- How would your life, business, family, or job change if you could learn how to become undisturbable?
- Would you believe that experiments with primates show they have better self-control than Harvard students?
- Picture how different life would be if it didn’t take so much effort to be extremely efficient?
- What if understanding our own evolution could make life effort-less?
It is easy to focus on unfairness.
In 2015 we were fired by bullies, my dad died of a heart attack, we had to say goodbye to our kitty and I was diagnosed with cancer. All in a matter of months. Trust me I was seriously peeved. But the only person I was hurting was me. Once I learned the lessons I share in this class I became stronger, happier and a far greater teacher than I have ever been before. I learned because I had to learn. For the first time in my life I felt feeble and I hated it. But without that experience I would never have understood that many people feel helpless everyday. Many, many feel like there is nothing they can do, no relief, no future and worst of all NO FUN. Life should be enjoyable. Everyday is not going to be jumping over the moon joyous but persistent suffering is unacceptable. You deserve more. You deserve better. You deserve a life you look forward to. The answer is in you.
How do I know? Why should you trust me?
Because this has been my single-minded focus my entire life. I don’t care about golf, politics, popularity or the daily news but I love science. I love to understand why we are the way we are. I love to connect the dots between Science, Psychology, Success and Spirit to create a system of awareness. These four areas are like the four chambers of a heart. Cut the circulation off to any chamber of the heart and the patient will die. Sometimes, as with my dad, without any warning at all. The same holds true for every business, association, community or family. The same is true for each of us. Ignorance is not bliss.
Learning is not always easy.
That is why you will see references to laughter throughout my evaluations. I don’t make people laugh because I want to be a comedian. I make people laugh because it is the most effective way to teach. Even if it wasn’t I would do it for me. Laughter is the universal lubricant for learning. When people lose the ability to laugh, they lose the ability to learn.
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau
About the Author:
Randy Morgan CSP CPC is a keynote educational humorist and author of Peer Powered Performance combining the latest research in neuroscience, psychology and business to share “Life Lessons Through the Lens of Laughter”Share