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Willpower Isn't Enough

Jason Shen graciously contributed a new guestpost to the site -- his have always been popular here. He's running an online class on "The Science of Willpower, Habits, And Behavior Change" in January. Here's Jason --

Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is one of my favorite films and the best comic book to film translation ever done. Nolan's take on Batman is gritty, heroic, fresh, and even somewhat plausible. One of my favorite scenes from the first film, Batman Begins, is when he is being trained by Ra's al Ghul on the art of ninjutsu. The key conversation I want to point out here: 

George St. Pierre pummeling your untrained face

Conservation of Will

A particularly great comment by "Zeid1" on the post "Willpower Isn't Enough"; here's Zeid's comment in full -

Excellent Post.

The idea of Willpower being the answer is dangerous.  An example I think of is 12-step programs for fighting addiction.  In almost every 12-step program there is the need to submit to a higher power which can help you stop your habits.  This leads to some consternation from those who don't believe in a higher power, but the programs themselves are very effective. 

In my view this is hugely due to our cultural idea that the correct way for us to deal with something like addiction is to "Man Up" and will ourselves to stop doing whatever destructive behavior we're trying to avoid.  However, in the process of manning up, we're exhausting our ability to continue to do so, and in effect putting ourselves at a prime risk of relapse.  

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