Posts Tagged ‘Will Power’

Happy New Year for 2015! Now What About Those Resolutions?

December 30, 2014

If you are serious about achieving your resolutions, be realistic. If you have read previous healthymemory blog posts on this topic, you should be aware that achieving resolutions requires resources of attention and will power that are consumed in your efforts to achieve them. As has been mentioned in previous posts, picking just two resolutions is a good idea. One resolution should be fairly easy to accomplish. You want to have at least one victory in the win column. The second resolution should be a stretch, but not too much of a stretch. This is one that you can truly congratulate yourself for accomplishing.

You want to bring mindfulness into your resolutions. If you are not currently practicing mindfulness, then that resolution should be on the top of your list. Practicing mindfulness will enhance the probability of you achieving your resolutions. Entering “mindfulness” into the healthymemory blog search block will yield many, many blog posts on this topic.

Controlling our Thoughts, Emotions, and Behavior

January 3, 2013

Suppose some jerk cuts you off in traffic. Most of us would likely become upset, even enraged, and be mulling over the incident the remainder of our drive. This is not a good response. Your blood pressure increases, which is not good, and your judgment might be impaired. You can call a process called “self-distancing”1 into play.

Dominik Mischkowski and his fellow psychology graduate students at Ohio State University conducted an experiment in which they deliberately upset students waiting to participate in an experiment by making them wait and being rude to them. The students who had been upset were asked to relive the situation: half the group was asked to relive the experience through their own eyes, and the other half by mentally moving away from the experience and watching it at a distance as if it were happening to someone else. According to results published in the September 2012 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology the self-distancing students had less anger and were less likely to respond aggressively to others in a subsequent task.

The way you think about a bad experience can determine the difference between successful and unsuccessful coping. The September 2012 Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry published a study using people who had recently experienced a highly stressing event—such as a crime, the death of a loved one or a relationship breakup. One group was instructed to write about their experiences in a concrete, objective way and to focus on such questions as “How do I feel right now? How did I feel at the time of the event, and what did I see, hear, and think? How might I deal with a similar situation in the future? “ The other group was instructed to write in an abstract evaluative manner and address such questions as “Why did the event happen? Why do I feel this way about it? Why didn’t I handle it differently?” Later, the concrete-thinking group reported fewer intrusive memories of the event than the abstract thinking group. The researchers think a concrete focus helps to facilitate emotional processing and problem solving, whereas an abstract perspective does not and perhaps even hinders these undertakings.

The recent healthymemory blog post, “Happy New Year: What About Your Resolutions” reported research from the August 2012 Journal of Consumer Research that showed that when participants framed a refusal as “I don’t,” which connotes personal control, instead of “I can’t,” which connotes deprivation. So, for example, one could say “I don’t eat fatty foods,” rather than “I can’t eat fatty foods.” Vanessa Patrick, the author of the study said, “I believe that an effective route to self regulation is by managing one’s desire for temptation, instead of relying solely on willpower… Saying,“I can’t” denotes deprivation while saying “I don’t” makes us feel empowered and better able to resist temptation.”

Meditation is another means to help us control our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You will find many healthymemory blog posts on this topic by entering “meditation” into the search block.

1Roridguez, T. (2013). Ameliorate Anxiety and Anger. Scientific American Mind, January/February, p. 10.

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