Want to know how to increase willpower to either avoid a temptation or to start a new, positive habit? Here’s a helpful science backed tool.
Consistently research on “willpower” reports that the best way to make big changes in your life is to make small changes daily. After all, it’s easier to be a saint for 15 minutes, than to be a saint for 2 hours.
I’m personally a big fan of small daily changes – which means I love “Kaizen” – which is a Japanese word which pithily summed up means:
“doing small changes over time in order to create huge life changes”
For the next month commit to devoting a tiny 15 minutes a day to a new improved habit– and tweak your way to a happier life.
You can always find an extra 15 minutes in your day!
Brain researchers Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang believe if you can train yourself to stay disciplined for a mere 15 minutes a day doing a specific task – eventually – over time – you will become a more disciplined person in general – and be able to do a habit for far longer than 15 minutes!
Aamodt and Wang have discovered that a human brain‘s overall willpower capacity increases like a muscle every time a human practices even a little bit of willpower — for even 15 minutes — because the human is literally strengthening their brain‘s neural pathways.
Aamodt and Wang mention in their report how increasing “a human’s overall willpower muscle“ can begin with something as simple as disciplining yourself to brush your teeth for two weeks with your non-dominant hand.
Well, instead of having you brush your teeth differently, I want you to brush up on doing “that thing” you know you need to brush up on!
Basically, sometimes the idea of doing something new can feel so overwhelming – that you wind up choosing not to do anything.
However, if you commit to doing a tiny 15 minute habit a day – moving one tiny 15 minute step forward a day – you will happily discover changing your life is not as overwhelming as you‘d thought.
I believe thereʼs a secondary reason why discipline for changing your life increases when doing small 15 minute habit changes over time. Youʼre creating what I call “identity shifting.” Basically, when you start doing a new disciplined live-improving 15 minute action, your identity begins to shift to see yourself as a disciplined life-improving person.
Thereʼs even a famed psychological theory called “Cognitive Dissonance” which explains this identity shift.
We humans donʼt like to have a disparity between our thoughts and our actions — so when we change our actions, we change our thoughts to match them.
If Human A starts to do a loving action for Human B — through Cognitive Dissonance — Human Aʼs brain will start to tell them “Geez, I must surely like Human B if Iʼm now doing a loving action for them!” As a result, according to studies on cognitive dissonance, Human A will wind up liking Human B a wee bit more.
If you force yourself to do positive, disciplined actions, then your brain — via the perks of Cognitive Dissonance — will start to tell you, “Geez, I must be a positive, disciplined person if I am doing positive, disciplined actions.” Eventually you will wind up being a wee bit more positive and disciplined!
Need some extra inspiration and support?
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.
Think happier. Subscribe for free tools!
Live your happiest life. Get my research-based happiness newsletter delivered conveniently to your inbox.