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Willpower Isn't Enough

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

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

Are Discipline or Willpower useful concepts?

On Mental Models

Context: self-improvement. About 1/3 of all self-help books somehow incorporate this in one way or another. Some are made up mostly of this idea, others rely on it subtly, maybe unconsciously.

"You just have to want it enough and you will get it."

So far, so good. You could say this is true by definition: if I didn't get something, I didn't want it enough. (I wanted to be skinny, but I wanted ice cream more). But here's the conclusion these self-help authors usually draw:

"Therefore you just need to want it harder!" / "Just Do It!" / "Power through" / "Man up!"

Often times, metaphors alluding to the reader's manliness, good old-fashioned discipline, stopping the whining or similar are invoked.

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