Developing willpower. Walter Michelle

Actionable willpower tips from one of the industry's top experts. Psychologist Walter Michel, author of the famous marshmallow test, explains, what is willpower and how to develop it.

From Books you will learn:
✔️ how to apply and develop self-control, facing everyday challenges: the need to lose weight, quit smoking, prepare for dismissal and other important problems.

This book will change the way you think about solutions, which we all take in education, education, social policy and personal life.

Chapter 1. Sweets test

A person is very often disappointed in willpower.. The simplest example is when it doesn't start with 1 January new life. Remember yourself. Записались ли вы в тренажёрный зал? Бросили курить? After all, you promised yourself to do all this in the new year.! On the other hand, it is willpower that allows a person to climb to the top of the mountain, take gold at the olympics, defeat addiction, etc..

One of the manifestations of willpower is the ability to postpone gratification., to get a bigger reward in the future. One test worth mentioning here, which was aimed at measuring this ability. During testing, children were asked to either eat a treat right now, либо подождать некоторое время и получить больше сладостей. Person, experimenter, playing with children, to earn their trust. The child was seated at the table and a plate was placed in front of him. На тарелке с одного края лежала одна конфета (cookies, marshmallow, etc.), and on the other - two. There was also a bell on the table. If the child wanted to eat candy right now, he should have called him. The room itself, in which the test took place, was empty.

It turns out, that the child had to either wait for the adult and get two candies, either call an adult and get only one treat. Of course, different children behaved differently in such conditions. Some raised their hand to the bell and pulled themselves. Others looked at the ceiling. Still others stared at the candy and said to themselves, that you don't need to take them. Были и те, who immediately unwrapped the candy wrappers and nibbled on the candy.

Was, what is between the behavior of children and that, what happened to them next, there is a connection. The experiment lasted for many years. Children have already graduated from schools and universities, became parents themselves. Watching them continued, researchers learned about their occupation, health, financial situation ... And the results were very interesting!

It revealed, what kids, who have waited longer than others for a reward, across 10 years have been much better at keeping control over themselves. If they needed to concentrate, nothing could distract them. They did not succumb to temptations, верили в свои силы и в правильность своих мыслей. They found it easier to deal with stress., make plans and stick to them.

When these children got more 25, it turned out, that they are better aware of their goals and follow a clear path to achieve them. They received higher education, less often than others succumbed to addictions. Также они легче сходились с людьми и поддерживали отношения.

When they turned 45, scientists conducted a brain examination using a tomograph. And they were surprised again: у тех, who in childhood was ready to wait for a reward, brain activity was different. The prefrontal cortex deserves special attention., which is responsible for creativity, efficient problem solving and pulse control.

It turns out, that the ability to control oneself from an early age affects the, what awaits a person in the future. But how do children manage to hold on and not eat candy right away??

Chapter 2. Effective strategies

A treat for children could be put on a plate, so and under it, not to be seen. Heavier, of course, accounted for those, who saw the candy and understood, that it cannot be eaten. On the other hand, the same children could wait along with the rest, when the candy was not visible.

When the sweetness lay right under your nose, children turned away, closed their eyes, looking up or at the floor, moved the plate as far as possible. So that the wait is not so unbearable, children came up with rhymes, пели песенки, tried to distract themselves in every possible way. When these ways ended, children could even fall asleep. The children were the worst., who could not think of any entertainment for themselves, all their attention was occupied by sweets. Not surprising, that they almost immediately rang the bell, to get a reward.

Instead of real sweets, children could be shown them in a picture.. And it turned out, that it is much easier to wait for the depicted treats. As the children themselves explained, because "you can't eat a picture". Even if the treat was really on the table and the child was asked to present, that it is not real, it was easier for him to wait.

Will the irritant act on a person, he determines himself. If you imagine taste or smell, immediately want to get what you want. But if you focus on the abstract aspects, it's easier to control yourself. Children have proven this by personal example.: coped with the expectation better than those, who thought not about the taste of marshmallows, and, for example, about its color. Children also managed to control themselves better., who were praised or who thought of something funny. If the child was tuned in to sadness, he fought harder with temptation.

It turned out also that, that the perception of a stimulus is influenced by a person's assessments. For instance, the most beautiful dessert will not be so attractive, если вообразить, that a cockroach ran over him in the kitchen. That is, if a person is able to change the course of his thoughts about the desired subject, он перестаёт идти на поводу у ситуации и самостоятельно управляет своим поведением.

Strategies expand and change with age. The experiment showed, that three-year-olds ask to leave a candy on the table, to see her, and therefore easily break down. Getting older, they already asked to remove the temptation away and occupied themselves with distracting thoughts. After a while, the children began to give themselves instructions.. Они понимали, that emotional beliefs about the treat make it difficult to wait. And this should be adopted by adults.: if you need to focus, just change your train of thought, and they will calm your brain!

Chapter 3. Hot and cold systems

The person has a "hot" emotional system - the limbic. She controls emotions and reactions., which are necessary for survival. Thanks to this system, our distant ancestors survived and were able to continue the race.. A significant role in it is assigned to the amygdala., which prepares for quick action, leaving no time for reasoning. If a few hundred years ago a person thought, Should he run from the predator, you and I wouldn’t exist now.

Now we do not encounter predators, but the limbic system continues to work. She saves us from strangers, who suddenly appear in a dark alley. Or else we dodge, when we see, how the car is flying at us, потерявший управление. And the same system encourages children to eat candy as soon as possible and prevents them from waiting for a reward..

There is also a "cold" system, which is responsible for reasoning. В моменты стресса она ослабевает, giving way to a system of "hot". Although often at such moments it is the "cold" system that would be more useful. It develops slowly, fully matures by about thirty years of age. In three-year-old children, this system is very weak., and that is why it is so hard for them to pass the test with goodies.

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It is easier to turn on the cold system, when it comes to someone else. So, у ребёнка спросили, what would a good boy do: waited for two candies or immediately ate one? The child answered, that good boy waited and got both candy. “What would you do?"- asked after. “I would eat candy now!"- children, говоря о себе, prefer fast rewards and hot system.

Very important, so that under the influence of stress, the "cold" system does not atrophy. In this case, self-control will be impossible., и реагировать на ситуации адекватно человеку будет уже очень сложно, what, Certainly, приведёт к трагическим последствиям.

Chapter 4. Communication with parents

When exactly does a person have the ability to delay the reward?? An experiment was carried out, during which the baby first played in the room with his mother, а затем мама ненадолго уходила, and the kid stayed in the room with the researcher. The child has already seen this researcher.. If the child starts to be capricious and cry loudly, the researcher began to calm him down, говорить, that mom will be back soon. After that, the mother had to return to the room., and the researcher go out. Tem, who conducted this experiment, было интересно, will it affect the child's reactions in a few years and how the child will cope with the candy test.

Was, what babies, who have been in contact with the researcher or have studied toys lying around, better endured separation. There were also children, who immediately after leaving the mother began to cry and look at the door. Waiting for longer and longer, they felt worse. You probably won't be surprised by the fact, что в дальнейшем в тесте с конфетами такие малыши тяжелее справлялись с отложенным вознаграждением.

Parental behavior influences children's reactions from birth. Even a little stress affects the baby due to the strong plasticity of his brain.. It is very important to teach the child to switch and shift attention from the feeling of suffering to that., what is interesting to him. The sooner parents do it, the more likely, what, getting older, the child will be able to be distracted on their own. It will not be so hard for him to expect a reward., he will not feel unhappy at the same time.

If parents are trying to constantly monitor their children and make decisions for them, follow every step, it is more difficult for children to adequately respond to difficulties. Truth, It revealed: если ребёнок убегает от тотального контроля, it shows the best results in the candy test. And if the baby allows his parents to decide everything for him, он практически сразу звонит в звонок и съедает сладости. Those Parents Are Right, which encourage the independence of children. Their sons or daughters in candy tests are much more likely to get two whole sweets instead of one..

Chapter 5. A clear plan

Экспериментов, aimed at studying willpower, huge multitude. Another of them was that, that children had to do some boring and monotonous business for ten minutes, so that they will then be allowed to play with beautiful toys. At the same time, opposite them was a tempter - a toy clown, which shone with bright lights and called the child to play. He could offer to show tricks, to talk, sing a song, etc..

The strategies here can be different.. Just like that for children, naturally, difficult to resist the temptation. To ease their condition, proposed strategy "if - then": “If the clown calls you to play, то тебе нужно будет посмотреть на свою работу и сказать: "Not, I can't, I'm busy now ". Ребята, who were offered such a plan of action, it was easier to resist, they successfully completed the task. You can also use this strategy., if temptations keep getting the best of you.

Just make plans! They will quickly become a habit and become automatic.. When a person has no plan, he lets the clown easily, chocolate bar, cigarette and other distractions confuse yourself and get lost. A clear plan suppresses the quick response of a hot system. If it works with kids, what to say about adults!

Chapter 6. Доверие

Resisting temptations is easier, when there is trust. If a child trusts an adult, he would rather choose a deferred reward. If you don't trust, it is easier for him to stop at the fast, but a guaranteed reward. The more often a person deals with those, who does not keep promises, the less likely, what will he wait. It's easier for him to show rationality and get his right now..

Experiments have also shown that, what kids, who prefer delayed gratification, less likely to cheat themselves. Delayed Reward Launches Cold System, which, as it were, observes and controls the actions of the "hot". A person can decide for himself, in what cases which system will be useful for him. And here, как вы помните, it all depends on the specific irritant and your attitude towards it.

Chapter 7. Genes or nature?

The candy tests were revealing, And, certainly, raised a question: whether willpower and self-control depend on genes? Or is it a consequence of parenting?

From birth, all people have different emotional reactions.. The rhythm of life can be different too: someone sleeps a lot, and someone is constantly active. Considered, that all these differences depend both on genetics, and from external factors. To prove it, проводились исследования с близнецами. Гены закладывают от трети до половины того, what develops in a person.

At all, it is not so easy to separate nature from upbringing, because the expression of genes is formed precisely by external factors. It cannot be said (it's not that important!), nature or nurture becomes paramount. Their interaction is so strong, that it is not possible to single out one thing.

Every biological process is influenced by context, including socio-psychological. Стресс, experienced by a pregnant woman, сказывается на младенце. Influenced by breast milk, продукты, which the woman used, toxic substances, state of joy, delight, etc..

Very important for self-control is the development of the prefrontal cortex - the "cold" system in infants., which we have already talked about. As the child develops, he can exercise self-regulation - that is, not remain a contemplator., but change qualities, which are in it. For example, It revealed, that a shy child, with the help of parents and experiences, can become more talkative and overcome the shyness.

Research, carried out on rats, allowed us to draw some interesting conclusions. So, animals, placed in an enriched environment, became noticeably "smarter", and if the environment was poor, "Smart" individuals lost the effectiveness of their actions. It also turned out, what rats, which mothers looked after more, в будущем получали много преимуществ. They reacted less to stress and performed better on cognitive tasks..

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so, many of our predispositions are programmed, но мы в состоянии подвергать их изменениям. The question of the primacy of genes or nature is increasingly losing relevance..

Chapter 8. Optimism and growth mindset

Candy tests showed, that children can wait long enough for rewards, but at the same time they can eat a treat almost immediately. В ребёнке природой могут быть заложены самые прекрасные качества, but without the right environment and effort they may not develop. People, who escaped from a disadvantaged environment in childhood, celebrate, that this was the starting point of their success. Instead of begging, hooligan and steal, they started learning and making efforts. Они поняли, that can achieve a lot, especially if you felt the support of your elders. These people, by their example, confirm, that a "cold" system can be stronger than a "hot" one. Control impulses, to see the goal and strive for it helps, in particular, executive function.

Its action is perfectly demonstrated by the "candy" test.. When a child tries to distract himself and reduce temptation, it connects exactly the executive function. Whatever the child does (играл, пел песни, turned away, etc.), all strategies had common features:

- children knew their goal and the conditions for achieving it («Съем конфету сейчас – не получу потом две!»);

- they transferred attention and switched efforts to thoughts and actions, which would help to reach the goal;

- they coped with impulses and suppressed them.

If a person's executive function is sufficiently developed, it is easier to concentrate on tasks, instructions, is successfully planning, а также имеет гибкость мыслей. Long-term stresses and threats interfere with the development of this function..

Children need executive function, to fight temptations, do not get into conflicts, better concentrate on lessons, contain anger, etc.. This function is closely related to the ability to sense other people's intentions and thoughts., anticipate the reactions of others. She helps to understand, that other people's reactions may differ from ours. If from childhood the executive function is highly developed, a person is more likely to live that particular life, which he wants. He values ​​himself highly enough and does not doubt his abilities..

Thinking can be directed as given - "It is impossible to change", "I can't get stronger", "I am uncommunicative", так и на изменчивость – «Я могу стать более общительным и заводить новых друзей», "If you practice hard, you can become a professional ", «Если проводить больше времени за мольбертом, you can learn to draw well ". Fortunately, a person's way of thinking can change.

People, who are growth oriented, less prone to discouragement. They don't blame themselves or others., trying to find solutions to problems. If you believe in your abilities and strength, понимать, that you yourself are the reason for your success, it is much easier to postpone the reward and handle the "candy" dough.

Optimism also plays a role (certainly, until, пока он имеет связь с реальностью!). The opposite of this state is pessimism.. Pessimists expect the worst, think about poor resolution of the situation, focused on the negative. These people see many flaws in themselves., do not like themselves and their appearance, do not consider themselves professionals. If this way of thinking is laid in childhood, means, с возрастом состояние может усугубиться, a person is more likely to fall into deep depression sooner or later.

Optimists take their credit, and if they make mistakes, верят, что в другой раз обязательно справятся лучше. They see alternatives, they perceive obstacles constructively. Therefore, it is easier for optimists to postpone reward and make an effort to get two candies instead of one..

Chapter 9. About future

How do you perceive your own self? Turns out, your perception also affects your self-control ability. Experiments have shown, what people, who feel a connection between themselves in the present and themselves in the future, it is easier to postpone the reward.

According to researchers, there is a so-called psychological distance - measurement, in which people move, когда думают о будущем и прошлом. The greater the distance, the more control is transferred to the "cold" system. When the distance gets smaller, a person examines the situation in more detail. For example, you were offered an exciting trip. It should take place in a few months. You will surely agree, because the offer will seem tempting. But the closer the moment of departure is, the more doubts can arise. The trip can be perceived as a challenge: “When to buy tickets? What to do with transfers? Сколько нужно денег? Where to live? Why did I agree at all?»

You really need to agree. You should think about the event after its completion.. Useful to imagine, as if the trip should take place right now. It is necessary to present in all details, how would you feel. И отталкиваться при принятии решения именно от этих ощущений.

To learn to postpone rewards, нужно перемещать фокус с «сейчас» на «потом». When a smoker thinks about the long-term effects, his desire to pick up a cigarette is weakening right now. Это показали исследования с использованием сканограмм мозга. Но возникает вопрос: why is it so difficult to quit smoking??

The smoker's "cold" system is fast asleep, but the "hot" gets great pleasure. To change position, it is necessary to present the negative image as vividly as possible, that would disgust cigarettes. Some may find it helpful to inhale the smell of an ashtray - the strong smell of nicotine leads many to nausea.

Others represent cancer patients. The main thing is that the picture is very clear., unpleasant, such, which would drown out the "hot" system. You can also publicly tell your friends, family and friends, that from now on you do not smoke. In the eyes of other people, no one wants to seem like throwing words to the wind.! The secret of success is, for the "hot" system to make the image of the future stronger than temptation, and "cold" turned this image into an unpleasant.

To develop willpower, it is important to abstract from temptation. To see the future, you need to imagine it as vividly as possible, learn to think with a cool head, но чувствовать при этом горячо.

Chapter 10. Keep distance

The "cold" system should help people to cope more easily with difficult experiences. It was easier for children to cope with the onerous expectation., when they pushed candy away from them or closed their eyes. Own feelings, Unfortunately, в дальний ящик не спрячешь. Therefore, the question arose: how adults should behave, to avoid depression?

Researchers asked a group of people to look at their experiences with their own eyes., evaluate your experience, delve into feelings. These people described the state very emotionally.. The second group was asked to describe the feelings of the distant self.. Is it any wonder, that these subjects showed less emotion and more abstracted?

It is very useful to look at the situation from a distance., and not immerse in it. This allows you to find alternatives and reduce suffering.. А ещё дистанция влияет на здоровье: It revealed, that digging up your blood pressure, в то время как взгляд со стороны возвращает давление в норму. Self-distancing is a way to reduce stress levels and heal faster.

Chapter 11. Sensitivity to alienation

The more successful a person postpones a reward, тем эффективнее он борется с отрицательными чертами своего характера. Здесь стоит упомянуть о чувствительности к отчуждению. If it is high, the person is afraid to be left alone. И своими же поступками в итоге именно этого и добивается.

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The person is constantly looking for evidence of self-love., breaks down in the second half, shifts the blame. If the sensitivity is lower, people stay in relationship longer. In childhood, a person with high sensitivity is more often attacked by peers and feels lonely. His self-esteem falls, he may become depressed and ill.

Being highly sensitive is helped by the ability to postpone reward and engage the cold system.. When anger boils in a person, he will surely handle it, if he takes a deep breath, дистанцируется и подумает о долгосрочных целях. Отлично, if he also implements the "if-then" plan. Before giving vent to emotions, need to think about the consequences. Children, успешно прошедшие тест с конфетами, cope with it better in adulthood.

Chapter 12. Psychological immune system

When stress gets too much, The "cold" system does not cope, в бой вступает психологическая иммунная система. She helps you praise yourself for your success and not blame yourself for your mistakes., to sleep calmly, even if some unpleasant situation happened at work. A person can reason something like this: “My presentation went wrong, as i wanted, because I had a bad headache. Therefore, failure is quite forgivable ".

This system helps a person understand, that he still has more positive traits, than others. If a person rates himself higher, he tolerates stress more easily. Однако это не значит, that you need to consider yourself generally better than everyone around.

Людям с высокой самооценкой проще налаживать контакты и справляться с трудностями. However, it is also important, so that they clearly understand, when is exaltation appropriate, and in which not. The psychological system can and will fail us, when a person goes to extremes, becomes overconfident and makes decisions, несущие опасность. Всё потому, that a person succumbs to the illusion of control. В некоторых случаях люди с более низкой самооценкой и отсутствием оптимизма достигают больших результатов.

Chapter 13. The importance of motivation

Remember, how often, it would seem that, идеальные и успешные люди падают в пропасть. An exemplary family man suddenly confesses to numerous connections. Or an athlete, whose discipline could be envied, turns out to be addicted. This means, that in specific situations a person could not resist temptations. Хотя в других областях легко справился с этой задачей. Умение контролировать себя и откладывать награду – это способность, and how to apply it, never apply. That is, want to do it.

It turns out, that we need motivation. It depends on her, what will be the behavior of the person. The illusion of control and overly inflated self-esteem make you think, that nothing bad will happen to you. You will not be caught red-handed, you will not be judged, and if condemned, you will somehow settle the conflict.

People are not always consistent. No need to think, that a conscious person will constantly behave consciously, and absent-minded - to demonstrate exactly this trait. In some cases, people show themselves aggressively., в других – спокойно. May be indifferent to criticism, and very receptive. Someone may feel fear at the dentist's, but at the same time do not be afraid of interviews or passing the obstacle course at all. Some situations especially strongly activate the "hot" system and trigger the "if - then" response mechanism.. You need to watch yourself carefully, to identify these points and the reactions following them, which you probably regret.

The force loves, to our regret, may be depleted. If one situation required a strong application of control, in the following situation control will be weakened. One of the experiments showed, that students, who had to strain their will and choose radishes instead of dessert, did worse at solving a math problem, than those, who didn't have to choose between vegetables and sweets.

However, it was also revealed, what if motivation is enough, the person will continue to work. A young man in love can unload wagons for a day, а потом с лёгкостью бежать к любимой. Motivation largely determines our behavior..

Important, so that the person is sure, that challenging tasks give him strength. The same, кто считают, that energy is depleting, хуже справляются с самоконтролем и нуждаются в восстановлении. Nevertheless, you do not need to test yourself. Delaying reward all the time, nothing good will come of it. Вы вообще разучитесь радоваться жизни и получать положительные эмоции. It is not for nothing that we have simultaneously "hot" and "cold" systems - it is wrong to rely on only one of them..

Chapter 14. Подведение итогов

Beneficial for children, and adults are affected by exercise, exercises, направленные на развитие памяти, as well as meditation. The hot system reduces the value of future rewards and forces you to focus on, what can you get right now. To deal with this feature, you need to kind of "warm up" the future and "cool" the present. This strategy works at any age.. Children, as you have already seen, use it skillfully. Means, you can do it too.

Like the kids, tell yourself: “If the clown calls me to play, I will refuse, because I work ". In your case, the clown's place will be taken, of course, чем-то другим: “If I go to the kitchen, I will not open the refrigerator ", “If I drive past the bar, I do not park the car ". For the plan to work, find your hotspots. Для этого ведите дневник и записывайте, what specific situations pissed you off.

Get the support of your loved ones. You must want to change something not in words, а на деле. Представляйте более чётко себя в будущем, it helps to start changes faster.

Look at the situation from the outside, as if through the eyes of a third person. Distance yourself from events, which cause pain. Don't start half a turn, reduce stress levels, then children will feel calmer. Lead by example, refocus children's attention from negative to positive, учите их отвлекаться и занимать себя, so as not to be tormented by waiting.

Показывайте, that a person always has a choice, that every choice has its own consequences. Find alternatives, encourage independence. Показывайте, that skills are not static, that they can be developed. Support thinking, growth-oriented. Also explain to the children, that mistakes and failures are part of life, not indicators of worthlessness. Keep promises, don't give a reason to doubt yourself.

Show kids educational programs and cartoons, читайте книги, в которых показано, how heroes deal with their negative qualities. The main thing is not to turn your life and the life of your children into a black streak., когда только и приходится, what to postpone reward and wait for a better time.

Always keep your eye on the target and stay motivated. Remember, что каждый из нас может измениться – даже тот, кто когда-то показал не лучшие результаты в тесте с конфетами. Encourage the cold system and remember, that you will definitely succeed!

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