How to Increase Your Willpower & Tenacity
The podcast episode discusses how to build tenacity and willpower. It explores the psychology and neuroscience behind these traits, including a brain structure that many neuroscientists are not aware of. Research-supported tools for enhancing tenacity and willpower are discussed. The episode also delves into the controversy surrounding willpower as a limited resource. The role of the anterior mid-singulate cortex in generating tenacity and willpower is explored, along with ways to activate and build this brain area. The importance of engaging in challenging activities and incorporating resistance into daily routines is emphasized. Overall, the episode provides insights into the science of tenacity and willpower and offers practical strategies for enhancing these traits.
Tenacity and willpower involve intervening in our default neural processes and require effort and energy.
Engaging tenacity and willpower requires actively resisting default behaviors and exerting effort.
Willpower may be a limited resource that can be depleted with each decision or bout of exertion.
Some studies suggest that willpower is a finite resource that can be drained with each use.
The anterior mid-singulate cortex plays a crucial role in generating tenacity and willpower.
This brain area is associated with resisting default behaviors and allocating resources for challenging tasks.
Engaging in cardiovascular exercise can increase the size of the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
Physical exercise, particularly cardiovascular training, has been shown to enhance the functioning of the brain area responsible for tenacity and willpower.
Building tenacity and willpower involves resisting actions we want to do or doing actions we don't want to do.
Developing tenacity and willpower requires deliberately engaging in behaviors that challenge our default tendencies.
Activation of the anterior mid-singulate cortex can be achieved through challenging activities and resistance.
Engaging in difficult tasks and resisting temptations can stimulate the brain area associated with tenacity and willpower.
Rewarding oneself occasionally after completing challenging tasks can reinforce the behavior of increasing tenacity and willpower.
Occasional rewards can help solidify the habit of engaging in behaviors that require tenacity and willpower.
Taking care of autonomic functions such as sleep, nutrition, and social connections is crucial for maintaining tenacity and willpower.
Ensuring proper sleep, nutrition, and social support are essential for consistently engaging tenacity and willpower.
Engaging the anterior mid-singulate cortex through acts of resistance can build up its capacity for future use.
Regularly challenging oneself and resisting default behaviors can strengthen the brain area responsible for tenacity and willpower.
Exercise, specifically cardiovascular training, has been shown to increase the size of the anterior mid-singulate cortex and its connections.
Engaging in physical exercise, particularly cardiovascular training, can enhance the functioning of the brain area associated with tenacity and willpower.
- Building Tenacity and Willpower
- The Psychology of Willpower
- Controversy around Willpower
- Modulators for Tenacity and Willpower
- Glucose Availability and Willpower
- The Role of the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
- Activation and Building of the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
- Enhancing Tenacity and Willpower
- Building Tenacity and Willpower through Resistance
- Activating the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
- Enhancing Tenacity and Willpower through Activation
Building Tenacity and Willpower
00:00 - 06:40
- Tenacity is the willingness to persist under pressure and resistance, while willpower involves both the motivation to do things and the motivation to resist certain things.
- The podcast episode discusses how to build tenacity and willpower.
- The episode explores the psychology and neuroscience behind tenacity and willpower, including a brain structure that many neuroscientists are not aware of.
- Research-supported tools for enhancing tenacity and willpower in any circumstance are discussed.
- Understanding the psychology of tenacity and willpower, along with the underlying neural mechanism, allows for personalized protocols in enhancing these traits.
- Tenacity and willpower vary among individuals based on life circumstances, with some needing more of these traits to engage in certain behaviors while others need them to resist certain behaviors.
- Tenacity and willpower should be distinguished from habit execution.
The Psychology of Willpower
06:20 - 13:22
- Habit execution is different from willpower and tenacity, as it requires less effort and can be done without much resistance.
- Willpower and tenacity involve intervening in our default neural processes and require effort and energy.
- Energy in this context refers to the neural energy required to engage in or resist a behavior.
- Tenacity, willpower, grit, and persistence are on one end of a continuum, while apathy and depression are on the other end.
- Motivation allows movement along this continuum but is distinct from tenacity and willpower.
- There are specific neural circuits that can be engaged to enhance tenacity and willpower.
- The psychology of willpower has been studied for over a hundred years, with research exploring conditions that enhance or drain willpower.
- Some studies suggest that willpower is a limited resource that can be depleted with each decision or bout of exertion.
- Ego depletion is an operational construct within psychology that refers to the concept of oneself and the effort required to overcome challenges.
Controversy around Willpower
13:01 - 19:36
- The formal definitions of terms like narcissism and gaslighting often differ from how they are used on social media and the internet.
- Ego depletion is the term used to describe the depletion of willpower with each successive attempt to engage it.
- The focus is on whether willpower is a limited resource and if it gets drained with each decision or effort to resist certain behaviors or thoughts.
- There has been controversy around ego depletion and the theory of willpower as a limited resource.
- Researchers have conflicting evidence regarding willpower, with some contradicting the findings of previous studies.
- Understanding ego depletion and willpower as a limited resource is important for understanding tenacity and willpower in psychology.
- Tenacity and willpower may be limited resources that can be replenished through specific processes within the body.
- There are tools and protocols available for increasing levels of tenacity and willpower, especially when faced with multiple challenges over time.
Modulators for Tenacity and Willpower
19:13 - 26:20
- Modulators are tools and protocols that indirectly change our probability of doing something or not doing something, and they play a role in increasing tenacity and willpower.
- The autonomic nervous system has two major components: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system generates states of alertness, action, and resistance, while the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation and quiescence.
- Willpower and tenacity rely on the balance of autonomic function. When well-rested, our ability to engage in non-default behaviors and resist default behaviors is higher. Conversely, when sleep-deprived or experiencing physical/emotional pain or distraction, our ability to call on tenacity and willpower is diminished.
- Currently, there is no simple way to quantify autonomic function, but companies are developing devices to measure it.
- Taking care of foundational modulators like sleep is crucial for consistently engaging tenacity and willpower.
Glucose Availability and Willpower
25:52 - 32:32
- The podcast discusses a study that tested the effects of glucose availability on willpower.
- Subjects were given either a glucose beverage or a drink without glucose before performing tasks that required willpower.
- The outcome of the study showed that subjects who consumed the glucose beverage had maintained or increased levels of willpower compared to those who did not.
- This led to the belief that keeping brain glucose levels elevated or stable throughout the day could enhance willpower and tenacity.
- However, other groups attempted to replicate these findings and controversy arose regarding the interpretation of the results.
- A colleague at Stanford conducted a study in 2013 to examine whether willpower is indeed a limited resource and if glucose availability is the limiting factor.
- The study involved participants performing difficult tasks that required willpower, similar to previous experiments.
- One of the tasks used was the Stroop task, which tests prefrontal cortex function and context-dependent strategy setting.
- Overall, the focus was on testing whether willpower is a limited resource by having participants engage in multiple hard tasks.
The Role of the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
57:38 - 1:04:41
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex is a vital hub for engaging tenacity and willpower.
- There are several quality peer-reviewed studies in humans that support the role of the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
- Different ways to assess the involvement of a brain area in a phenomenon include measuring its activity, assessing changes in size or volume, and examining its input from other brain areas.
- Recordings by neural imaging have shown elevated activity in the anterior mid-singulate cortex during hard tasks compared to easy tasks.
- High-achieving individuals have higher resting state activity in the anterior mid-singulate cortex compared to lower-achieving individuals.
- Lesions or disruptions of anterior mid-singulate cortical function can lead to increased apathy, depression, and reduced levels of tenacity and motivation across different domains of life.
- Successful dieters show elevated spontaneous and evoked levels of activity in the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
- Individuals who struggle with weight loss or are obese tend to have diminished levels of activity in the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
- People with depression, learned helplessness, or anorexia nervosa also show reduced levels of neural activity in the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
Activation and Building of the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
1:24:05 - 1:30:51
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex plays a crucial role in allocating energy and resources to generate tenacity and willpower.
- Engaging tenacity and willpower is not always advantageous, as it can lead to negative consequences like eating disorders.
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex receives input from both the brain and body, and its activation increases when we move our bodies or engage in challenging tasks.
- Studies suggest that the anterior mid-singulate cortex can be built up through specific behaviors that require resisting certain actions.
- Building up the anterior mid-singulate cortex's capacity for tenacity and willpower carries over to other challenging aspects of life.
- Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase brain volume, including the anterior mid-singulate cortex, which improves its functioning.
Enhancing Tenacity and Willpower
1:37:25 - 1:44:27
- Engaging in cardiovascular exercise can increase the size of the enter mid-singulate cortex.
- The study suggests that everyone should be doing some form of physical exercise to enhance tenacity and willpower.
- Adding or subtracting something that makes it harder to engage in or resist a behavior can increase tenacity and willpower.
- Activities that are easier to carry out, like calisthenics and stretching, do not create changes in the brain structure associated with tenacity and willpower.
- If you're already doing moderate to high intensity cardiovascular training or resistance training, you need to add something new to further activate the enter-mid-singulate cortex.
- Increasing the activation and volume of the enter-mid-singulate cortex can be applicable to other endeavors such as academics or professional life.
- Simply continuing to do what you're already doing may maintain your current level of tenacity and willpower but won't further build it up.
- Taking on challenging tasks like learning a musical instrument or a second language can provide an opportunity to engage the activity of the enter-mid-singulate cortex.
- Hard challenges activate the enter-mid-singulate cortex, while easy challenges and reflexive habits do not.
- It's important to pick something hard, physically or psychologically, but avoid anything damaging.
- There are various opportunities besides exercise to engage the enter-mid-singulate cortex for tenacity and willpower.
Building Tenacity and Willpower through Resistance
1:50:18 - 1:57:03
- Engaging in activities such as running, weightlifting, or learning new skills can enhance tenacity and willpower.
- Resistance training and cardiovascular training are important for maintaining neuromuscular function and cognitive function.
- Incorporating "micro sucks" into exercise routines can help build tenacity and willpower. These are tasks that require effort but are safe to perform.
- Examples of micro sucks include adding an extra set at the end of a workout or doing 100 jumping jacks after a run.
- Resisting distractions during workouts, such as not looking at the phone, can also activate the enter mid-singulate cortex and increase tenacity.
- It is important to choose micro sucks that are challenging but not overwhelming, and to incorporate them regularly into exercise routines, cognitive routines, and daily routines.
- Waiting a few extra minutes before eating or sitting still and thinking about what was learned can also be considered micro sucks that build tenacity.
- Building tenacity does not require a deep understanding of neuroscience; it simply involves resisting actions we want to do or doing actions we don't want to do.
- Deliberate engagement in behaviors we least want to do in a given moment helps increase tenacity and willpower.
- It is important to be cautious when using this approach to avoid unhealthy behaviors or resistance of behaviors.
- The goal is to develop a healthy relationship with life and goals while activating our internal resources voluntarily.
Activating the Anterior Mid-Singulate Cortex
1:56:41 - 2:03:49
- Activating tenacity and willpower involves stimulating the intermidsiculate cortex.
- It is important to be able to activate these states voluntarily, but also learn how to turn them off.
- Engaging in challenging activities like cold exposure or difficult exams can help build tenacity and willpower.
- There are endeavors that have no endpoint, which are important for continually building up these qualities.
- Superagers, who maintain cognitive function like younger individuals, are always engaged in hard activities and seek out friction points.
- The inter-mid-singulate cortex may be associated with the will to live and longevity.
- Beliefs impact physiology and vice versa, and there are brain areas underlying tenacity and willpower.
- Continually forging in the environment, exploring, and avoiding complacency reinforce circuits related to tenacity and willpower.
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex is not the sole determinant of tenacity and willpower; it's our ability to engage it that allows us to express these qualities.
- Increasing tenacity and willpower can be achieved by triggering activation of the anterior mid-singulate cortex.
Enhancing Tenacity and Willpower through Activation
2:03:20 - 2:07:54
- Increasing tenacity and willpower is possible by activating the anterior mid-singulate cortex in the brain.
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex is responsible for allocating resources to resist doing things we don't want to do or that others try to prevent us from doing.
- Resisting stress and experiencing relief afterwards can reinforce tenacity and willpower.
- Rewarding oneself occasionally after successfully completing a challenging task can further reinforce the behavior of increasing tenacity and willpower.
- It is important to reward oneself in a healthy and safe manner, not on a regular basis or every time.
- Taking care of autonomic functions such as sleep, nutrition, and social connections is crucial for maintaining tenacity and willpower.
- The anterior mid-singulate cortex plays a central role in generating tenacity and willpower by regulating fuel consumption in specific brain areas.
- Engaging the anterior mid-singulate cortex through acts of resistance can build up its capacity for future use.
- Exercise, specifically cardiovascular training, has been shown to increase the size of the anterior mid-singulate cortex and its connections.