Chapter 1 – I Will, I Won't, I Want

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Welcome to your QUIZ - The Willpower Instinct - Chapter 1

Jim spent one week reading and studying the first chapter. He learned that we need will power to resist certain cravings or impulses that are:

These instincts helped our prehistoric ancestors survive.  These instincts include:

The instincts of sex, appetite and aggression were the three basic instincts needed for prehistoric humans to survive because our ancestors lead simpler lives in which their time was spent largely on finding food and eating, reproducing, and warding off danger.

These same instincts survive in humans today.

Individuals today without the inherited instincts of appetite, sex, or aggression are less healthy.  For example, a person lacking one or more of those instincts might become depressed. Those instincts are not as critical for our survival today and can tempt to get into trouble.  For example, humans do not need to be aggressive nearly as much today for the survival of the species.

Thus, we need to exercise self-control.   Components of self-control are:

The I Will and I Won't functions may (or may not) reflect our best intentions, but often we lack the willpower to exercise self-control over our instinctual urges.  Fortunately, modern humans have also inherited the willpower instinct as we have evolved.  Components of the willpower instinct are:

The I Want function of our brain helps us exercise self-control (I Will and I Won't).  Together, the three function make up the Willpower Instinct.

Willpower seems to be a trait unique to human beings.   Another uniquely human trait useful in willpower is:

No other animal displays self-awareness.   As far as we know, only humans are aware of their awareness.

The human functions of I Will, I Won't, I Want and self-awareness are located in the brain in the:

The amygdala is where your "fight or flight" instinct is located. This instinct diverts your energy to the body to speed you up for quick responses. The prefrontal cortex functions channel energy to your brain and slow your body down.  This allows you to think more clearly and decide what you really want.

As humans evolved, the prefrontal cortex grew and allowed humans to do the “harder thing”, that is, control strong impulses that:

The prefrontal cortex allowed humans to control strong prehistoric impulses  that are no longer vital to our survival and are, in fact, very often unhealthy for us today.

Jim did all his assignments in Chapter 1. The first assignment was “Under The Microscope: What is the Harder Thing?” The assignment states, “Every willpower challenge requires doing something difficult, whether it’s walking away from temptation or not running away from a stressful situation”. The reader is asked to name his/her harder thing and describe feelings associated with thinking about it.

Jim’s harder thing was:

It was easy for Jim to follow cravings for sweet things and junk food and then appease his sweet tooth.  So, the cravings weren't the harder thing.  Rather, it was controlling his cravings that was the harder thing.

The second assignment was “Under The Microscope: Meeting Your Two Minds”. The assignment states, “Every willpower challenge is a conflict with two parts of oneself”, the “impulsive version” and the “wise version”. The reader is asked to tell what the impulsive version wants and what the wise version wants.

Jim’s impulsive version wants:

See food, eat it!  Jim's impulsive self wants immediate gratification.

Jim’s wise version wants:

The wise self wants to control your cravings for your long-term good.  This involves delayed gratification for what you really want.  In Jim's case, it's losing weight.

The third assignment was “Willpower Experiment: Track Your Willpower Choices”. The assignment states, “To have more self-control, you first need to develop self-awareness. A good first step is to notice when you are making choices related to your willpower challenge.”

Possible times when Jim noticed making such a choice were when:

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