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The myth of self-control & Here’s what actually works … thanks Poppy

“THERE’S A STRONG ASSUMPTION STILL THAT EXERTING SELF-CONTROL IS BENEFICIAL … AND WE’RE SHOWING IN THE LONG TERM, IT’S NOT”

Studies have found that trying to teach people to resist temptation either only has short-term gains or can be an outright failure. “We don’t seem to be all that good at [self-control],” Brian Galla, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, says.

If we accept that brute willpower doesn’t work, we can feel less bad about ourselves when we succumb to temptation. And we might also be able refocus our efforts on solving problems like obesity. A recent national survey from the University of Chicago finds that 75 percent of Americans say a lack of willpower is a barrier to weight loss. And yet the emerging scientific consensus is that the obesity crisis is the result of a number of factors, including genes and the food environment — and, crucially, not a lack of willpower. 

If we could stop worshiping self-control, maybe we could start thinking about diluting the power of temptation — and helping people meet their goals in new ways with less effort. 

The case against willpower

 Photo by Rochelle Brodin/Getty Images for De Re Gallery

Many of us assume that if we want to make big changes in our lives, we have to sweat for it. But if, for example, the change is to eat fewer sweets, and then you find yourself in front of a pile of cookies, researchers say the pile of cookies has already won. 

“Our prototypical model of self-control is angel on one side and devil on the other, and they battle it out,” Fujita says. “We tend to think of people with strong willpower as people who are able to fight this battle effectively. Actually, the people who are really good at self-control never have these battles in the first place.” 

This idea was crystallized in the results of a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study tracked 205 people for one week in Germany. The study participants were given BlackBerrys that would go off at random, asking them questions about what desires, temptations, and self-control they were experiencing in the moment. 

The paper stumbled on a paradox: The people who were the best at self-control — the ones who most readily agreed to survey questions like “I am good at resisting temptations” — reported fewer temptations throughout the study period. 

To put it more simply: The people who said they excel at self-control were hardly using it at all. Psychologists Marina Milyavskaya and Michael Inzlicht recently confirmed and expanded on this idea. In their study, they monitored 159 students at McGill University in Canada in a similar manner for a week.

If resisting temptation is a virtue, then more resistance should lead to greater achievement, right? That’s not what the results, pending publication in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound. 

The students who exerted more self-control were not more successful in accomplishing their goals. It was the students who experienced fewer temptations overall who were more successful when the researchers checked back in at the end of the semester. What’s more, the people who exercised more effortful self-control also reported feeling more depleted. So not only were they not meeting their goals, they were also exhausted from trying. 

“There’s a strong assumption still that exerting self-control is beneficial,” Milyavskaya, a professor at Carleton University, tells me. “And we’re showing in the long term, it’s not.” 

What we can learn from people who are good at self-control

 Max Griboedov / Shutterstock

So who are these people who are rarely tested by temptations? And what can we learn from them? There are a few overlapping lessons from this new science:

1) People who are better at self-control actually enjoy the activities some of us resist— like eating healthy, studying, or exercising.

So engaging in these activities isn’t a chore for them. It’s fun. “‘Want-to’ goals are more likely to be obtained than ‘have-to’ goals,” Milyavskaya says. “Want-to goals lead to experiences of fewer temptations. It’s easier to pursue those goals. It feels more effortless.”

If you’re running because you “have to” get in shape, but find running to be a miserable activity, you’re probably not going to keep it up. That means than an activity you like is more likely to be repeated than an activity you hate. 

2) People who are good at self-control have learned better habits 

In 2015, psychologists Brian Galla and Angela Duckworth published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finding across six studies and more than 2,000 participants that people who are good at self-control also tend to have good habits — like exercising regularly, eating healthy, sleeping well, and studying.

“People who are good at self-control … seem to be structuring their lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place,” Galla tells me. And structuring your life is a skill. People who do the same activity — like running or meditating — at the same time each day have an easier time accomplishing their goals, he says. Not because of their willpower, but because the routine makes it easier. 

A trick to wake up more quickly in the morning is to set the alarm on the other side of the room. That’s not in-the-moment willpower at play. It’s planning.

This theory harks back to one of the classic studies on self-control: Walter Mischel’s “marshmallow test,” conducted in the 1960s and ’70s. In these tests, kids were told they could either eat one marshmallow sitting in front of them immediately or eat two later. The ability to resist was found to correlate with all sorts of positive life outcomes, like SAT scores and BMIs. But the kids who were best at the test weren’t necessarily intrinsically better at resisting temptation. They might have been employing a critical strategy. 

“Mischel has consistently found that the crucial factor in delaying gratification is the ability to change your perception of the object or action you want to resist,” the New Yorker reportedin 2014. That means kids who avoided eating the first marshmallow would find ways not to look at the candy, or imagine it as something else. 

“The really good dieter wouldn’t buy a cupcake,” Fujita explains. “They wouldn’t have passed in front of a bakery; when they saw the cupcake, they would have figured out a way to say yuck instead of yum; they might have an automatic reaction of moving away instead of moving close.” 

3) Some people just experience fewer temptations 

Our dispositions are determined in part by our genetics. Some people are hungrier than others. Some people love gambling and shopping. People high in conscientiousness — a personality trait largely set by genetics — tend to be more vigilant students and tend to be healthier. When it comes to self-control, they won the genetic lottery. 

4) It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy 

When Mischel’s marshmallow test is repeated on poorer kids, there’s a clear trend: They perform worse, and appear less able to resist the treat in front of them. 

But there’s a good reason for this. As University of Oregon neuroscientist Elliot Berkman argues, people who grow up in poverty are more likely to focus on immediate rewards than long-term rewards. Because when you’re poor, the future is less certain. 

Researchers want to figure out if self-control could feel effortless

 Tetiana Yurchenko / Shutterstock

The new research on self-control demonstrates that eating an extra slice of cake isn’t a moral failing. It’s what we ought to expect when a hungry person is in front of a slice of cake. “Self-control isn’t a special moral muscle,” Galla says. It’s like any decision. And to improve the decision, we need to improve the environment, and give people the skills needed to avoid cake in the first place. 

“There are many ways of achieving successful self-control, and we’ve really only been looking at one of them,” which is effortful restraint, Berkman tells me. The previous leading theory on willpower, called ego depletion, has recently come under intense scrutiny for not replicating.

(Berkman argues that the term “self-control” ought to be abolished altogether. “It’s no different than any other decision making,” he says.)

The new research isn’t yet conclusive on whether it’s really possible to teach people the skills needed to make self-control feel effortless. More work needs to be done — designing interventions and evaluating their outcomes over time. But it at least gives researchers a fresh perspective to test out new solutions. 

In Berkman’s lab, he’s testing out an idea called “motivational boost.” Participants write essays explaining how their goals (like losing weight) fit into their core values. Berkman will periodically text study participants to remind them why their goals matter, which may increase motivation. “We are still gathering data, but I cannot say yet whether it works or not,” he says. 

Another intriguing idea is called “temptation bundling,” in which people make activities more enjoyable by adding a fun component to them. One paper showed that participants were more likely to work out when they could listen to an audio copy of The Hunger Games while at the gym. 

Researchers are excited about their new perspective on self-control. “It’s exciting because we’re maybe [about to] break through on a whole variety of new strategies and interventions that we would have never thought about,” Galla says. He and others are looking beyond the “just say no” approach of the past to boost motivation with the help of smartphone apps and other technology.

This is not to say all effortful restraint is useless, but rather that it should be seen as a last-ditch effort to save ourselves from bad behavior. 

“Because even if the angel loses most of the time, there’s a chance every now and again the angel will win,” Fujita says. “It’s a defense of last resort.”

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Nutritional Myths, Intermittent Fasting and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with Dr. Mike (Dr. Michael VanDerschelden) … thanks John Bergman

Nutritional Myths, Intermittent Fasting and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with Dr. Mike (Dr. Michael VanDerschelden) … thanks John Bergman

I just want to say I don’t know if it’s cool or if it’s not professional for a Doctor to say things like incisor teeths (pronounced teets) and using hip-hop language like ‘haters’. Yes that is what confused me. Anyway, I’ve summarised the points under each video.

Nutrional Myths with Dr. Mike Part 1 of 2

– Healthiest diet is low-fat. High-carb diet with lots of grains (Myth). The food pyramid is designed to make you sick.
– Restrict salt in order to lower blood pressure and prevent hearth attack and stroke (Myth) Insufficient evidence. Salt took the blame for what fructose should have been blamed for.
– It is best to eat many small meals throughout the day to increase metabolism (Myth). Breaks down the hunters diet and how starvation mode is good.
– Egg yolks should be avoided because they are high in cholesterol which drives heart disease (Myth). There is more evidence of the benefits. The darker deep orange the egg yolk the healthier the egg. Not pale yellow.
– Ancel Keys studies 22 countries and hand picked only 7 to chart high saturated fat intake results when the graph plotted with all countries showed the stats to be really random.
– He doesn’t support isolated proteins as it’s not WHOLEfood.
– People who reduce or stop meat get healthier also because they stopped eating crappy meat so look for grass fed.
– People in France get a baguette everyday because it will get hard quick because it doesn’t have preservatives.

Nutrional Myths with Dr. Mike Part 2 of 2

– Meat is bad for you (Myth). Insufficient evidence. Overcooked meat is cancerous so cook at lower temps and cut off burnt part. Paras note: I love the burnt part! Also processed meats are bad for you and not unprocessed meats. Make sure you get organic and grass-fed beef.
– All hunter gatherer sites showed high meat content. This is his argument for humans being designed to eat meat. The consumption of animal foods is also linked to large and complex brain evolution. Other arguments are the digestive system and acid to break down animal protein and of course incisor ‘teets’.
– Coffee is actually good for you. More coffee less liver cancer. 4 or more cups a day lowered cancer recurrence by 52%. 2-3 cups daily = 31%. It reduced the risk of 11 other cancers. Drinks are less likely to have coronary artery calcium which is a predictor or heart disease. 1-6 cups daily reduces stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, infections, etc. BUT you need to get the right coffee otherwise you’re going to get all the sicknesses. Get certified organic, fair trade.
– Whole grains are good for you (Myth). None of them are really ‘whole’ because they’re all ground so you get more blood sugar and a faster hit of it. It’s bad for you ‘straight up’.
– Gluten-free means healthy (Myth). Choose things that are naturally gluten-free or you’re just replacing the gluten possibly worse chemicals.

Intermittent Fasting

Click to get the book or ebook

Note: The main reason I’m sharing this is because I’ve been doing it and feel like it’s a good way to go personally but I also feel your diet is like your fashion sense and personal tastes… only you can experiment and figure out what is best for you. I believe some people will not do well without meat (like Michael Clarke Duncan) while some don’t do well with intermittent fasting. It’s all on your epigenetics ;o)

– Not one research article on eating 6 small meals a day.
– You need to go through ‘starvation mode’. Hunters and gatherers did this while hunting which burns your stored fat. It takes 6-8 hours to metabolise the glycogen.
– Goes through a whole load of health benifits. (Time 9:06 – 10)
– Human growth hormone can release if insulin is not being released so fasting helps the process.
– Preserves health of the brain, better memory. Ketones are good for you.
– Insulin sensitivity is improved. You just need a little released but when you lose sensitivity you release more and more. This is what the body does if you do the 6 small meals a day. Paras note: I’ve been doing the 6 small meals for as long as I can remember. Been fine so far. I also switched to intermittent fasting last year and been find this way too!
– Shares his routine and goes into a Q&A.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

– Does the usual comparison between a long distance runner and sprinters physique.
– So the study between HIIT and steady-state cardio showed. HIIT achieved 7 x more fat loss and 2lbs more muscle. While steady-state cardio lost 1lb of muscle.
– Your body is not designed to slow run for 60 mins. Hunters ran in sprints then rest. Cardiac risk increases with excessive aerobic activity.
– With HIIT you’re using all muscle fibres. Fast twitch and slow twitch. With aerobic you’re only using 40%.
– HIIT reduces telomere shortening. When the telomere can’t shorten anymore you die so you’re reducing that. Lots of benefits with HIIT.
– The workout. You only workout for 20 minutes. Paras note: I do about 30. You can do any workout from swimming, cycling, walking, weights etc. 1: 3 minute warmup, 2: 30 seconds exercise as hard as you can, 3: 90 seconds rest, 4: repeat 7 more times. (Paras note: I’d say repeat as many times as you feel fit to do so. Give it 2-3 days to recover. Workout about 3 times a week.
– Goes into intermittent fasting.

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3 Ways Facebook Is Like a Drug By Marghi Merzenich

I recently read a pretty thought-provoking article about how checking Facebook (or other social networks) may be permanently changing the brain, because it offers your brain chemical rewards not unlike those that occur from compulsive drug use. The article is worth a read but pretty long and detailed, so I wanted to summarize a few of the most interesting claims here.

First, we get addicted to Facebook because we enjoy “the thrill of the hunt”:

“Recent observations indicate that the brain is more active when people are anticipating a reward rather than receiving one. This is because we are wired to seek, and to really enjoy the thrill of the hunt. The Internet can ensnare you in a dopamine loop since it makes the process of reward-seeking so quick and easy. Basically, we like dopamine surges – and we get some of the best ones when we are hunting for something new. Actually getting the something new is a downer… so the hunt is where the best dopamine surges are found.”

That would explain why we feel the urge to check our Facebook feeds so often, but it doesn’t necessarily give us that much pleasure once we’ve checked it and seen what others have posted.

Second, Facebook may be worse for your brain than TV – and the more you use Facebook, the more you may be training your brain in a negative way:

“Facebook is worse than television programming for your brain. Far worse… Part of the process of creating a television program is to ensure a certain number of JPMs [“Jolts per Minute: how many times the action changes – by sight or sound] to forcefully hold the viewers attention. These may be images of violence, loud emotional speech, laughter, sexual innuendo or just about any other form of emotional manipulation. Watching Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross paint on PBS has a very low JPM level, say 5-15 JPMs. This allows a consistent stream of thought on the subject at hand – long enough to learn something new by reflecting on it. But [with Facebook] we have gone beyond Jolts Per Minute to Jolts Per Second (JPS).”

The author goes on to cite an ADHD researcher who mentions that our attention is “trained” by the stimulus inputs. In other words, if we get accustomed to more jolts, more often, we will crave more and more jolts, more often, instead of being satisfied with fewer jolts, less often.

And finally, in regards to self-esteem, Facebook is harming it:

“Basically, the architecture of Facebook – and the culture it creates or encourages – leaves many of us feeling less happy with our own lives. This drives a degree of emptiness – which encourages narcissism in an attempt to raise our spirits. We post pictures of something cool we did, or try to get more “likes” or “friends.” But our blood sugar – our self-esteem – keeps crashing, and the longer the Facebook Habit goes, the less attractive it is for us. We develop a dependency, just like a drug or processed junk food.”

If you want to read the full article, you can find it here.

What do you think? Is Facebook like a drug to you?

Bonus: It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies

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Community Movie Night – ‘Streetfilms: Bikes and Open Streets’ by Transition Town Mount Hawthorn Oct 12th 2016

Short films
Community Movie Night – ‘Streetfilms: Bikes and Open Streets’ by Transition Town Mount Hawthorn
Notes:
– The event was held at Foyer Oxford which itself does a lot of great and interesting things which I will look into later.
– City of Vincent’s Mayor John Carey had a chat with us after the movies and got us very inspired. What they’ve been doing is: how streets are shaped determine our lives. Educational programs, bike hire programs, triples investment in trees, 40 speed zone trial, write to Perth voice and demand change, push the boundaries, don’t do a study of consequences do a trial.
– Half way through we took a break to talk about why and how much we cycle and what were the obstacles or what would get more people cycling.
– I’ll just copy and paste the write up from the facebook event below as I want to get the videos in first.

1. Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam

2. Cargo Bikes in Copenhagen

3. Cambridge: Britain’s Cycling Capital

4. Vancouver’s Breathtaking Network of Safe, Protected Bike Lanes

5. Bikes are Freedom: Inspiration from the Experts

Second Half – The Global Open Streets Movement (33min)
6. Ciclovia: Bogota, Colombia

7. The Rise of Open Streets

8. “The Better Block” Celebrates Four Years of Re-imagining Streets

9. The Metamophosis of NYC Street

10. Playstreets (1968)
(Can’t find it but basically lots of kids playing around and enjoying the open streets way way way back in the day.)

 

 

Be prepared to be truly INSPIRED by these AMAZING short films by Streetfilms – the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, car-free streets, traffic calming and much more.
We will be showing the following STREETFILMS at 630pm on Wednesday 12 October 2016 at Foyer Oxford, 196 Oxford Street, Leederville.
First Half – Bike Initiatives Around the World (33min)
1. Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam
2. Cargo Bikes in Copenhagen
3. Cambridge: Britain’s Cycling Capital
4. Vancouver’s Breathtaking Network of Safe, Protected Bike Lanes
5. Bikes are Freedom: Inspiration from the Experts
Second Half – The Global Open Streets Movement (33min)
6. Ciclovia: Bogota, Colombia
7. The Rise of Open Streets
8. “The Better Block” Celebrates Four Years of Re-imagining Streets
9. The Metamophosis of NYC Street
10. Playstreets (1968)

“All of you are great human beings who are planting seeds all over to make a better world, where people are happier and we have healthier communities. Thanks for your enthusiastic and most creative work.”-Gil Peñalosa (former Parks Commissioner Bogota, Colombia)Executive Director, Walk & Bike For LifeOntario, Canada
” Showing the [Ciclovia] Streetfilm to our Mayor was the next best thing to flying him to Bogota to witness the joys of Ciclovia firsthand. The success of San Francisco’s Sunday Streets owes a great debt to Streetfilms’ pioneering work.” – Leah Shahum (Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition)
Event Details
Doors open at 630pm. Films start at 7pm.
Running time approx 88 minutes (including breaks in between films).
Bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Gold coin donations welcome (for cost of future screenings).
We look forward to seeing you there :)

For more information about Transition Town Mount Hawthorn go to: www.ttmthawthorn.org
For more information about Foyer Oxford go to: www.foyeroxford.org.au/

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The Circle of Courage – Native American Model of Education

“Anthropologists have long known that Native Americans reared courageous, respectful children without using harsh coercive controls. Nevertheless, Europeans colonizing North America tried to “civilize” indigenous children in punitive boarding schools, unaware that Natives possessed a sophisticated philosophy that treated children with deep respect.”The Circle of CourageCircle Courage Long

“The Circle of Courage is a model of positive youth development first described in the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, co-authored by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern. The model integrates Native American philosophies of child-rearing, the heritage of early pioneers in education and youth work, and contemporary resilience research. The Circle of Courage is based in four universal growth needs of all children: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.

These traditional values are validated by contemporary child research and are consistent with the findings of Stanley Coopersmith who identified four foundations for self-worth: significance, competence, power, and virtue. These are summarized below:

Belonging
In Native American and First Nations cultures, significance was nurtured in communities of belonging. Lakota anthropologist Ella Deloria described the core value of belonging in these simple words: “Be related, somehow, to everyone you know.” Treating others as kin forges powerful social bonds that draw all into relationships of respect. Theologian Marty observed that throughout history the tribe, not the nuclear family, always ensured the
survival of the culture. Even if parents died or were not responsible, the tribe was always there to nourish the next generation.

Mastery
Competence in traditional cultures is ensured by guaranteed opportunity for mastery. Children were taught to carefully observe and listen to those with more experience. A person with greater ability was seen as a model for learning, not as a rival. Each person strives for mastery for personal growth, but not to be superior to someone else. Humans have an innate drive to become competent and solve problems. With success in surmounting challenges, the desire to achieve is strengthened.

Independence
Power in Western culture was based on dominance, but in tribal traditions it meant respecting the right for independence. In contrast to obedience models of discipline, Native teaching was designed to build respect and teach inner discipline. From earliest childhood, children were encouraged to make decisions, solve problems, and show personal responsibility. Adults modeled, nurtured, taught values, and gave feedback, but children were given abundant opportunities to make choices without coercion.

Generosity
Finally, virtue was reflected in the pre-eminent value of generosity. The central goal in Native American child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. In the words of a Lakota Elder, “You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.” In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness: they make a positive contribution to another human life.”

All text sources: Reclaiming Youth International & Circle of Courage

Related video: Solution Tree: Reclaiming Youth at Risk

 
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