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Developing Willpower, by Jason Shen

Jason Shen has achieved tremendous success in athletics, technology entrepreneurship, writing, and living an outstanding life. To promote his recent GiveGetWin deal on The Science of Willpower, he sat down to tell us how he started learning about willpower, the state of what's known scientifically about how willpower and the brain work, and how you can start improving your life right away by implementing a tiny habit, thinking and systems, and using some powerful thinking tools. Enjoy:

Developing Willpower by Jason Shen, as told to Sebastian Marshall

Willpower has been an undercurrent in my entire life. In gymnastics, you have to use your willpower to overcome your fear of an activity and go for the skill you want, to get over the fear, to push yourself to finish your conditioning and strength training a part of you doesn't want to…

It didn't come automatically to me. When I was a student, I wasn't automatically self-disciplined. There were actions I knew were useful, like doing my homework in one session without getting distracted, or not throwing clothing on my apartment floor. But I wouldn't always do them, and I didn't know why.

I started to learn those answers during a student initiative course at Stanford called The Psychology of Personal Change. That's when I first started reading academic papers on the topic. In academia, willpower and self-discipline is often called "self-regulation," and in 2009 I started to get really serious about it from an academic perspective -- and saw gains from it in my personal life.

How to Think

On Imported Blog

The best thing I've ever done is learned how to think. It allows me to catch myself at times when my brain automatically goes to a conclusion. In argument, I always have a backdrop of reasons for when I decide on a stance.

I have more control over myself and the rest of the world, just by using my brain. It's basically the ultimate superpower.

Thinking can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So, what are we talking about when we talk about thinking?

We're talking about thinking:

This will be used against yourself in decision-making, and if you wish, against others in argument or even simple communication. It will give you complete dominion over yourself and, if you wish, others.

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