comment by JohnReese ·
2016-11-07T02:40:32.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
As someone who was once described as a self-control fetishist by a somewhat hedonistic friend of mine, I can report from experience on personal strategies. As someone whose doctoral work involved attempting to build a connectionist model of self-control, I would probably be inclined to highlight a couple of things from the literature.
Let me try both.
- The psychology literature on self-control/willpower would suggest that regardless of whether the "limited resource" model of Baumeister and colleagues holds up in the long run, there are some things one could do to strengthen and replenish "willpower". I have not examined this work in relation to the current replication controversy within the behavioural sciences, but I have encountered it in a few different contexts and attempted to theorise about it, so would like to include it here.
The basic idea appears to be that affirming core values or principles with the self as referent, would "boost" self-control. Of course, this is supposed to counteract depletion within a certain window, but not when the "self-control" system is pushed to fatigue. Another interesting context I have noticed it pop up is in military psychology and manuals for mindset training, where soldiers are given "affirmations" which typically include the military branch's code, a set of declarative , affirmative statements about membership and values associated with it etc, and this is prescribed as a means of combating fatigue in situations where focus and cognitive control are required (I need to re-read the source but if interested, check out work by Loren Christensen, Michael Asken et al.).
My old modelling work (still unpublished...working on it) would have stuff to say and I would be happy to talk about it if that is ok and anyone is interested.
Now, from personal experience...I went through several years of extreme adventures in self-control... and self-denial. As a long-term meditator, some of it was part of the training. One could perform a little test. Perhaps try to eat a single crisp and put the bag back in the container. The body would naturally not like this as crisps tend to be tasty, and one would want more. Observing the wanting can help contain it. Similarly, observing the depletion of will can help in the sense that one can disengage from the task at hand and allow it to re-calibrate to functional levels. Otherwise, if ongoing control cannot be abandoned for any stretch of time, performing centering exercises taught to meditators, LEOs etc can help.
Exercise 1 - close your eyes, breathe deeply, and as you relax, try to detect and follow 4-5 different sounds in your environment. Do this for a couple of minutes.
Exercise 2 - close your eyes, and detect different sensations you can feel...like your fingers on the keyboard, air circulation, how warm or cold the air in the room is, and keep at it for a couple of minutes.
While not aimed at willpower as such, this should facilitate a relaxed alertness that would benefit the ongoing task.
Of course, these may not work for you..I'd be interested in finding out how it pans out if anyone wants to give it a shot. If they are already known, apologies for the redundant comment.
I also find that engaging in consistent practice of some sort, like say, a few proper repetitions of a Taijiquan form /day, is (anecdotally) correlated with having a higher degree of volitional control over decisions and willpower for cognitively challenging tasks. The practice does not have to be religious or involve chants or suchlike...I suspect it has more to do with relaxed alertness and positioning oneself at the edge of a "flow" attractor basin.
**I come in peace. New member. I do not know if the protocol is to publish a post introducing oneself. If such is the case, please let me know and I will do so. It is great to read the posts and discussions on LW and I am hoping to write some soon.
Live Long and Prosper!
Replies from: arunbharatula, Sable
↑ comment by arunbharatula ·
2016-11-10T06:54:19.297Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Can you recommend any mindset manuals?
Replies from: JohnReese
↑ comment by JohnReese ·
2016-11-10T20:23:21.342Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Sure. For mindfulness based approaches anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn should be helpful...I recommend "Full Catastrophe Living".
There are some useful hacks in other popular books but I am not keen on recommending stuff that may not live up to the hype. Reading up on the affirmations literature might also help. It is a tool used both in the everyday sense, as well as in hypnotherapy etc. Hope this helps.