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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.

Mom Life 14: "Mean Clowns"

On Waiting for My Owl

My kids have been struck by the clown fear. Noah has heard from other children that there are clowns wandering around...they want to hurt people...they are also apparently in our house or planning to be soon. As the sun goes down, the fear rises in him. As the dark comes so do the imaginary sightings of clowns in every shadow.

Hope becomes affected in some moments, but she keeps repeating her mantra that seems to console her: "Mean clowns aren't real...only funny ones." (I never validated this, but it stuck with her from a friend.)

Both of them clung tightly to me tonight as we traveled the treacherous walk from the car to the front door. As we settled in for the night, getting ready for bed and watching the Indians vs. Cubs game, questions kept popping up. Noah kept pleading for reassurance.

"Are we going to be ok?"

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