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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.



What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way of being. It is a way of connecting with your life. It is being aware of the present moment. Being in a closer relation to what’s going on right now. It doesn’t matter what you are paying attention to, but it should be enjoyable, not an effort. Mindfulness is a powerful silence, outside and in, that nourishes us and heals us. The more you concentrate or meditate on something, the more beauty it will have.

Think back to when you were a kid, if you can’t do that, think of a kid you know or have seen on television. Kids live their lives in the present moment, without judgment. They don’t worry about the future or the past; they live for what is going on right now.

Greater mindfulness = Greater happiness, love, wisdom, emotional balance, peace of mind, and relationships.

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