23 Biohacks and Uncommon Mindsets for Superhuman Will Power

By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

Aristotle said...

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self."

For most of history, true mastery of self-control and willpower was regarded as a mythological act or feat of accomplishment that could only be reached by individuals who were more than human.  Today we are exceedingly lucky to live in a time when attitudes have matured and the science of biology has quantified the factors that determine the degree of self-control we have and practice. This article will present some cutting-edge biohacking techniques along with some rare philosophical mindsets for significantly increasing your willpower, focus, and ability to resist addictive behaviors.

A story about self-control

David blurred

David was my best friend for four years, towards the end of that time it became increasingly evident that he was a non-violent, high-functioning psychopath. David was on the path to become a doctor. David, at any given time, had at least one woman intensely in love with him - he had to pay for abortions at least three times that he told me about. To this day he remains the most charming person I have ever met.

David partied; he loved nightclubs, bottle service, cocaine, and occasionally smoking crystal meth. He had a contagious ability to energize any room. The only other passion that matched his appetite for intoxicants was his religiosity. He came from an intensely religious Mormon family (who I knew well - they were classy, generous people). Sometimes in a drunken fervor, he would explain to me how he was one day going to become a god of his own earth (this is part of the Mormon religion).

David carried an atlas of guilt on his shoulders. As his best friend and confidant, I heard from him often about how bad he felt about his alcoholism, his wasteful spending, and his cheating on his lovely Mormon fiance. Despite being incredibly hard-working, smart, charming, healthy, financially stable, surrounded by a caring family, and getting laid all the damn time David was profoundly unhappy because of his lack of willpower when it came to his vices.

By the end of this article...

Practicing self-control will be demystified for you, beyond a pseudo-spiritual lifestyle of abstinence from things that feel amazing. Self-control should not be a process of self-flagellation, it is instead an automatic system for making good decisions. Self-control is like a software operating system your day-to-day thoughts and impulses run on. By the end of this article, you will understand how to re-install, behaviorally configure, and upgrade the software. Next time you face a task or temptation you will be able to confidently choose from a variety of powerful self-control tools to handle it.

 Ethical Hedonism

Aristippus of Cyrene

A philosophy first articulated by Aristippus of Cyrene, a pupil of Socrates. The core belief of hedonism is that...

All people should do everything in their power to achieve the maximum amount of pleasure possible to them.

It is also the idea that every person's pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is the idea that we should have a dual focus on maximizing pleasure within the bounds of what is ethical. Therefore an ethical hedonist is a person who seeks to maximize their own pleasure but only if it's morally right to do so. The reason this is such a lifehack is that by prioritizing ethics you actually get to be more hedonistic, both in quantity and quality. Aristippus wasn't a big believer in an afterlife so he figured that as long as you were above ground you might as well be enjoying yourself. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good, I mostly agree!

 1. Don't moralize your habits and activities
Moralizing Behavior

As human beings, we tend to moralize our habits into good behaviors and bad behaviors. Most of us are raised in some kind of religious system of black-and-white ethics. This is actually a major failure point of self-control:

  • Once something has been categorized in our mind as indulgent, a guilty pleasure, naughty, or not allowed it becomes WAY more difficult for us to resist it.
  • Saying that something (having casual sex, drinking alcohol, wasting time on social media, watching vapid reality TV, etc) is NOT what a "good person" would do causes our brain to anticipate WAY more pleasure from it.
  • Basic human nature and the evolutionary psychology of scarce resources management make our minds irresistibly attracted to what we cannot (or should not) have.
  • Instead of categorizing habits and activities, into "good" and "bad," we need to look at them as shades of gray and take a more pragmatic amoral view of our habits. They are just a means to accomplishing our ends.
  • Don't make an activity a "forbidden fruit."

Study on GuiltWhen Guilt Begets Pleasure: The Positive Effect of a Negative Emotion

When guilt begets pleasure

A professor of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University conducted a study on guilt, pleasure, and self-control.

Participants who had been primed for guilt both liked the candy more and said they would be willing to pay more for it than those primed with neutral words... In another study, female participants were primed by showing half of them covers of health-related magazines and the other half covers of neutral magazines... Once primed, they were asked to imagine that they were participating in a chocolate taste-test and were asked how guilty they would feel if they were actually consuming the candy bar... the authors show that this pattern of results is unique to guilt and cannot be explained by a contrast effect that generalizes to other negative emotions. 

So the study showed what most people would probably agree with; that feeling guilty about a particular activity makes it more pleasurable and more desirable (the study subjects were willing to pay more for the chocolate). I did a short interview with the primary researcher of the study, she had some great insights.

Your brain is tricking you: Next time you feel that all too familiar pang of guilt and simultaneous desire, when confronted with something you know won't serve your best interests, realize that your brain is playing a clever trick on you. It's simply an archaic cognitive mechanism that unfortunately is not going to end up satisfying you very much.

 2. Your brain is a crappy predictor of future pleasure

parts of the brain

The brain does a surprisingly bad job of anticipating what's going to be highly pleasurable for you in the future. How many times have you been excited about something only to discover that it's quite mediocre?

future pleasure

Be more mindful of your brain telling you that you are going to enjoy things that will actually suck, like...

  • Getting drunk
  • Getting high
  • Eating shitty junk food
  • Smoking a cigarette
  • Blowing money at the mall
  • Having casual sex with a stranger
  • Binging viral videos on social media

 3. Minimize exposure to temptation

Minimize Exposure The simplest self-control hack which almost nobody practices is if you have a self-control problem with something, avoid that thing.

  • If you have a problem with alcoholism; stop hanging out with your drinking buddies.
  • If you have a problem with cigarettes; walk out of the room anytime someone lights up, don't hang out at places where people are going to be smoking, avoid going to stores where the cigarettes are displayed conspicuously, and pay for your gas at the pump.
  • If you have a problem with shopping and being a spendaholic; avoid malls and stores. When you do go to the store write up a concise list of what you are shopping for.
  • If you have a problem with cocaine, don't go to that party where people are going to be using it.
  • if you have an issue with sexual promiscuity; Cut your contacts and ties with a person you are inappropriately attracted to or only see and communicate with them in a professional environment.
  • If you have a problem with snack food, don't go down the snack food aisle or better yet order some delicious healthy snacks.
  • If you have a problem with wasting time watching TV; sell your TV or cancel Netflix or your cable service.

The secret to practicing this kind of preventative self-control is to plan your day, week, interactions, and social life proactively with avoidance in mind. It can also mean...

  • Initiating difficult conversations
  • Setting boundaries
  • And sometimes cutting off relationships

It may be hard but living a healthy, happy, and productive life is worth it.

 4. Arbitrary habit formation triggers gains in universal self-control

Habits Motivations
Consumer research done at the University of Texas
 around financial self-control products and services collaborating with the findings of Oaten and Cheng has vindicated a powerful philosophy of self-control that should appeal to everyone's common sense...

Developing small habits in a particular domain of your life increases the amount of self-control you have in that area and in general.

Here are some examples of common self-control areas that people struggle with and small arbitrary habits that could be seriously beneficial:

  • Snack food: Go buy a bag of almonds every Monday evening. A word to the wise: if you abstain from junk food for a while and then enjoy it sparingly it's amazing! I went almost a decade without eating a candy bar and after all that time, devouring a Reese's buttercup I felt like a greek god consuming ambrosia on Elysium!
  • Soda or energy drinks: Make green tea every morning or make it every evening before going to bed so you can have it in the morning.
  • Use of hard party drugs: Once a week when you are going out to hang with friends, skip the booze and take some social smart drugs instead and see how they affect your social mindset. Tell your friends about it, they will be fascinated. Or before you are going out to socialize, make it a point to shine your shoes. Or joke with the taxi driver.
  • Alcohol consumption: When you are drinking alcohol, smell your drink twice for every time you drink it. Or make sure you know and use the name of whoever you are talking to before ordering or pouring yourself another drink.
  • Sexual promiscuity: If someone you are attracted to is just a little disrespectful or unkind to you stop talking to them. My personal favorite; if I'm flirting with someone and they demonstrate flaky behavior more than once or twice I will unfriend/unfollow them on social media. Practice some more self-control with your masturbation habits; If you are single, wait at least five days to get yourself off. Imagine your sexual energy pervading more into other areas of your life like work, creativity, social life, etc.
  • Not playing on social media when you should be working: Schedule your social media usage. DO NOT post on social media as you feel like it or as a share-worthy thought comes to mind. Instead, write your status updates as an Evernote, then make it point to always share at 10:45 AM - or whenever.

 5. The tri-part habit formation process

habits health fitness guy 350

Habit formation should have three parts:

  1. Pick a trigger.
  2. Associate it with a behavior.
  3. Then reward that behavior.

Example: Practicing my Spanish

  1. Waking up in the morning I listen to some salsa music.
  2. I walk downstairs to the hotel's kitchen and chat with the employees in Spanish.
  3. Then I walk to the market down the street and buy my favorite fruit from a street vendor, yum!

 6. Stress depletes self-control

Stress icon

Stress and willpower have a kind of inverse relationship.

Biological signs of stress: Fight or flight biology; faster breathing, hypertension, increased pulse rates, along with spikes in adrenalin and cortisol.
When you are highly stressed it's almost impossible for your body to drop into a willpower state. If stress management is an issue for you (and let's be honest, if you are human it probably is!) check out our podcast on Life Hacking Stress.

Biological signs of willing power: Slowed down breathing, decreased pulse rates, and puts us into a balanced autonomic nervous state. We become more tranquil while exerting willpower.

The biohack for this is heart rate variability training, here's what I've learned from +300 HRV sessions with HeartMath's self-quantification devices...

 7. Triumph over tech addiction

Tech Addiction
One of our biggest addictions is our compulsive use of technology. 
Sporadic rewards are a great driver of human addictions and habits, this is why technology is so compelling. Maybe we will get a message from a friend or a long-awaited opportunity will pop up if we check social media or email every few minutes. Even in social situations, when we really should be paying more attention to our physical companions we look at our phones instinctually, without even thinking about it. As opposed to just scratching that itch when you have the inclination to, ask yourself...

  • Why do I want to check my phone right now?
  • Could my energy be better served by interacting socially with real flesh and blood people?
  • Or maintaining my focus on the task at hand?

Apps for digital self control

 8. The fear trigger for willpower

Fear is a powerful tool for self-control. Human beings will almost always choose short-term pleasure over long-term gain if we aren't emotionally experiencing the consequences of our actions.

Your Brain On Fear

Case Study: The Amygdala-less Lucy and disappearance of self-control

A Psychology Today article brings us a fascinating story of how biological changes drastically affect self-control. A 24-year-old woman started suffering severe seizures after a prolonged fever, the medication wasn't working so the doctors eventually decided to perform a temporal lobotomy to save her life.

  • The temporal lobotomy solved the seizure problem and Lucy's life returned to normal, for the most part.
  • Several years later she had another surgery. After this, at the hospital, she awoke in a groggy state and was left unattended in an examination room. Half an hour later she was found in another room giving a blowjob to a male patient she did even know!
  • Occasionally Lucy would forget to take her anti-seizure medication; she would have a seizure and then a few hours later she would engage in overt sexual activities like public masturbation or trying to seduce family members.
  • She would also lose control around food and would have intense binge eating episodes.

Fear Neuro BiologySo what's the biology behind this extreme lack of self-control? You've probably heard of the part of the brain called the Amygdala, actually there are two Amygdalas. The Amygdala is a very old part of the "croc brain," mostly concerned with threat detection and fear. It's this part of the brain where fear responses will put the brakes on impulsive behaviors. The temporal lobotomy Lucy underwent removed one of her Amygdalas and when she had a seizure the remaining one would turn off, leaving her fearless and endowing her with the sexual boldness of a succubus.

Example: Why I don't date "crazy" women

You hear men talk a lot about crazy women: men complaining about their ex-girlfriends, ex-wives, and baby's mothers. You hear men talk about how girls who are a little crazy are easier to attract, easier to seduce, and freakier in bed. To be honest, despite ample opportunity, I almost never date or spend time with crazy women and it saves me a TON of stress, time, and money. If I think back on the past several years of my dating life it's mostly just been a lot of fun with almost no drama, negativity, or heartache.

So why do I have so much self control in this area? Once upon a time as a very young man, I spent two days in a county jail for a traffic warrant. It was a seriously boring two days of crappy food, uncomfortable beds, and uninspiring conversation with the other inmates. One thing that I recall VIVIDLY was that a lot of the guys were spending a whole lot longer time in jail than me because they had been dating, living with, and making babies with "crazy" women. My emotional memory of those guys in jail provided all the motivation I needed to "just say no" to women who seem unstable or mean.

Lifehack for emotionalizing fears: Watch morbid documentaries

Unless you've had a close friend or family member die or suffer visibly because of their vices it may be difficult for you to scare yourself into practicing self-control when it comes to addictive behaviors. I recommend watching documentaries about drug addiction, alcoholism, prison, crime, and other societal ills. These documentaries can give you the emotional experience of the negatives of addictive and unhealthy behaviors giving you the mental fortitude to say "no" when it matters the most. Where to find these documentaries?

 9. Nootropics for self-control

Brain power Nootropics

Increased self-control or willpower is one of the most common ways people describe their experiences on a variety of Nootropics, brain supplements, and smart drugs. Several notable Nootropics for increasing willpower...

Piracetam - Increases the perception of reward and arousal along with boosting dopamine. This has been shown to help those suffering from alcohol and methamphetamine addiction. On the Wikipedia page, there are six different studies linked where it helped people with alcoholism issues. At lower dosages, it just puts you into a subtle state of relaxed arousal and at higher dosages delivers a powerful, productivity buzz all day.

Oxiracetam - I've been doing Oxiracetam for about several years now non-continuously and it has become one of my favorite smart drugs because, for me at least, it is the discipline moleculeOther Nootropics are better for...

Energy - like Piracetam
Creativity - like L-Theanine
Problem Solving - like Phenylpiracetam
Stress Management - like the Adaptogens
Focus - like Modafinil
Oxiracetam is the discipline drug

When I'm on Oxiracetam, I just do one hundred percent of what I know I should be doing.

Modafinil - Is a narcolepsy drug very popular among Biohackers and high performers that will put you in a powerfully focused state for 8-12 hours - lending you a heightened degree of discipline for the duration of the drug's half-life.

N-Acetyl CysteineThis cheap, safe, and widely available supplement is a Glutathione Biohack for those who have succumbed to vice. Multiple clinical trials have establishedNAC as an effective general willpower biohack.

Tyrosine - This amino acid helps those dealing with addiction as it balances the dopamine-based reward system.

 10. Practice of mental compartmentalization

mental compartmentalization
Mental compartmentalization is key to self-control. When an activity challenges your self-control as opposed to swearing it off, 
say to yourself: I will do that thing at some point and really enjoy it, at that time.

An example of compartmentalization: I was staying at a fun hostel in a surf town in Nicaragua, I was about to go to bed but there were a bunch of people partying in the courtyard within earshot. I was tempted to go party with them but instead, I said to myself: This coming Thursday I will go hang out with all these people and be very social, but not now. Now I'm going to go watch this documentary on this topic that interests me and go to bed early so I can get this project done early in the morning.

 11. Daily meditation significantly increases willpower

Meditation mindfulness Meditation practice consistently builds gray matter and increases the density of synaptic connections in areas of the brain that control decision-making and emotions.

Why is meditation so great for willpower? The core activity of meditation is to hold your body still and keep your mind either focused on a very specific topic (Focused Attention) or in the moment and hyper-receptive to what's going on around you (Open Monitoring). During meditation, you must resist the temptation to itch your body or become mentally preoccupied with your past or future. If you are not experienced with meditation it really can be challenging to keep your body still and stay in the moment mentally as opposed to moving backward and forwards on a mental time travel trip through your life.

The best way to get started is with the app Headspacewhich takes you on an educational journey through your mind with guided meditations. so there's this guy, with a very soothing English accent who talks you through the meditation process. If that sounds a little weird, well it is, but only for about the first three minutes of your first mediation session. After that, it's very mesmerizing. Learning mindfulness meditation takes some "training wheels" which Headspace's Take-10 series provides.

Category: Software & Apps

 12. Regular exercise correlates to gains in self control

Correlation between exercise
In an Australian study, Longitudinal gains in self-regulation from regular physical exercise, done at Macquarie University in Sydney Oaten and Cheng found a strong correlation between physical exercise and self-control ability. Aerobic exercise has a more positive effect on the mind than anaerobic exercise does, so cardio and intermittent training may do more for your mind than pumping iron. Here are the results reported:

During the regulatory exercise phase, participants also reported significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and an increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending and an improvement in study habits.

 13. Snack throughout the day

almonds chocolate snack icon The more hungry you get the less willpower you have. Think about the person who has a big lunch, works hard all day without eating, then pigs out on fast food on the way home. My favorite is indulgent (yet heart-healthy) snack is dark chocolate-covered almonds. Update: I've since changed my mind about snacking, I do it rarely. But for some Padawans in their personal development journey, I understand that healthy snacking can fortify dietary discipline.

 14. Switch hands

Switch hands

Dr. Thomas Denson, of the University of New South Wales, conducted a study that demonstrated that switching to your non-dominant hand helps you build control over the emotions of anger and aggression. Practice moving your mouse to the other side of your computer for 15 minutes a day, stirring your tea with your non-dominant hand, or focusing on your non-dominant side while doing martial arts or sports.

 15. Watch reruns of TV shows

Two studies conducted by Social Psychological and Personality Science found that watching television reruns actually restores willpower, whereas watching a brand new episode (or a nightly news program) depletes willpower. If you're looking for an excuse to binge-watch Battlestar Galactica again, this is it! I assume the same holds for watching your favorite movie repeatedly vs watching a new movie.

 16. Do willpower-demanding tasks earlier in the day

Decision making zone

Try to move tasks that require a lot of your strength and willpower to earlier in the day because our decision-making ability is demonstrated to be significantly better at that time. This would explain why not a lot of marital infidelity occurs before lunch! In fact, biohacker and productivity philosopher Dave Asprey refuses to answer the question, what time are we having dinner? During the day because it costs glucose that could be spent better. The lifehack, therefore, is to schedule your important decision-making moments early in the day - or do some good Nootropics after lunch.

 17. Liquid boosters of willpower

CaffeineReasonable doses of caffeine from coffee or tea (I prefer caffeine-rich, green tea) give you a bump in willpower. Good news: Chocolate (organic raw chocolate, my current favorite being raw Cacoa hearts, Que delicioso!) also contains caffeine, neurotransmitter precursors which will make you feel happier, and antioxidants that fight stress.

 18. Exercise executive function with brain training

A University of Switzerland study and a 2012 German study demonstrated that a few weeks of Dual N-Back software brain training will consistently increase Executive Function. Executive Function is our ability to practice mental discipline; to concentrate intently on one thing while completely ignoring something else, to mentally compartmentalize activities, direct attention with specificity, or to apply all creative energy towards a task until its completion. From the abstract of the German study:

Following [N-Back] training, participants showed improvements in the trained task as well as in the transfer working memory updating task. As for the other executive functions, trained participants improved in a task switching situation and in attentional processing.

This University of Minnesota studySelf-Regulation and the Executive Function: The Self as Controlling Agent, focused on the transfer effects between Executive Function, Dual N-Back Training, and Self Control. It concluded:

in the present study we have provided evidence that complex [working memory] training can produce transfer effects to executive functions.

Indeed, Dual N-Back training aficionados frequently report gains in self-control and the ability to focus on mission-critical tasks while ignoring distractions.

Dual N-Back Pro is the best Dual N-Back training app on the market for IOS and Android. Its creator, Dr. Mark A. Smith who I interviewed twice, makes the bold money-back guarantee that 20 sessions of 20 minutes each will result in measurable gains of 15-20 IQ points in addition to improvements in working memory.

 19. Social media count-up

Self Control on social media
Social accountability can be a great motivator; if you are trying to break a habit it may be a good idea to post a daily count up on social media: Day 17 without Smoking, Day 22 Sober - you get the idea. Each day your friends or followers will (hopefully) applaud your self-control. It also lets them know not to invite you out for a night of debauchery or to take a smoke break.
However, the social media count-up might be somewhat counter-intuitive considering the studies demonstrating that telling people about your goals, demotivates you from accomplishing them. To counterbalance this effect keep your resolution to yourself for at least a couple of weeks then start your daily social media count up. Post in the mornings during weekdays, this is when it will get the most visibility.

 20. Set stakes with stickK

Stickk Lifehacking Self Control

A seriously effective social accountability tool created by Yale University economists for quitting smoking, losing weight, eating right, or whatever your self-control-intensive goals are. You can set Commitment Contracts as... 

  • One-time events with a deadline (I will go one year without drinking alcohol).
  • Ongoing commitments (I will work out twice every week).

How it works:

  1. You start by creating a Commitment Contract for your behavior: You commit to exercising consistently, studying Spanish for an hour a day, going a month without drinking, etc. 
  2. Then you set the stakes of what happens if you fail to exercise self-control: Your money being donated to a charity or cause that you hate, or your friends and social network being notified are some of the most effective motivational stakes. That's right! One of the strongest motivators of habit-changing action is knowing that your hard-earned money is going to go towards a cause you oppose if you fail to practice self-control. Example: If you are Pro-Life on the Abortion issue, select a Pro-Choice charity to receive your funds if you fail.
  3. Select a referee: Your best friend, spouse, or roommate holds you accountable to your Commitment Contract. If you break your Commitment they can report it on your stickK account.
  4. Support: Other users on stickK will support and encourage you in your goals, posting encouraging messages on your Wall.
Category: Websites

There are currently over $60 Million on the line for Commitment Contracts and hundreds of thousands of users meeting their goals.

 21. The gift of rejection

When I was in my early 20s I used to smoke a couple of cigarettes a week in social settings. I used the whole "I only smoke when I drink" justification. Actually, a girl inspired me to drop this nasty habit not by supporting me but by rejecting me.

One of my best lady friends had been talking me up for weeks to her friend, Tammy. Our mutual friend arranged an epic night out on the town for us to meet; Tammy and I hit it off immediately and had awesome sexy chemistry on the dancefloor.
Then I screwed things up.
I will never forget the profound look of disappointment and momentary disgust on Tammy's when she saw me sneaking a puff outside that night. Our date ended with a cold goodbye and afterward, my texts to her went mostly unanswered. Honestly, it took me a couple of years after that to completely kick the habit but her complete rejection of me was the genesis of my questioning whether I should improve myself and kick the habit. Rejection is almost unmatched in its motivational power:

  • Think of the salesperson who works smarter because they lost a sale.
  • The business person who improves their product as a result of losing a big potential customer.
  • The frustrated young man who works harder than ever before to improve himself after a tough breakup.
  • The employee who aggressively begins acquiring skills as a result of being passed over for a promotion.

So may we never shy away from giving or receiving the edifying gift of rejection.

 22. Habit track and quantify self-control with Coach.me

This app takes all the features that make social media so addictive and distracting and instead puts them to work as motivational tools so you follow through on your winning habits daily.

How it works:

  • With a single click you "check-in" to habits as you complete them daily.
  • Add popular habits from the database or your own personalized habits.
  • Over time the app builds useful statistics and visual representations of your performance and progress.
  • Intuitive apps for iPhone, Android, and web browser.
  • Coach.me enlists the help of both your friends and strangers on the social network to encourage you to follow through with your habits. They can leave you props and encouraging comments on your habit check-ins. Don't let them down!
  • You can set reminders (with notifications) for certain habits.

When it comes to habituating discipline I prefer behavioral conditioning over ego-gratifying introspection. The bottom line with any tool is measurable results delivered which is where really Coach.me shines. For example; currently, I'm on a +70-day hot streak of brain training, with the progress I've made there's NO way I'm missing a day of brain training!

What Coach.me habits do we recommend?

It's free (also ad-free!) and takes maybe 120 seconds a day to update. If you are serious about your goals you have no excuse - download Coach.me now.

Category: Apps & Software
  If you join Coach.me connect with me! I've got some wacky and seriously self-improving habits!

 23. Selfies improve self control

Sounds crazy, right? Indulgences in camera-phone-powered narcissism are good for willpower...?

Self-control is universally correlated to the activation of a part of the brain, the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex (rVLPFC), sometimes also called the right inferior frontal gyrus. This part of the brain gets turned on by, you guessed it, narcissism, specifically seeing photos of ourselves. This includes:

  • Taking selfies frequently and looking at them.
  • Framing a photo of yourself somewhere you will see it frequently.
  • Placing a mirror on or near your desk (arguably better as it provides real-time feedback - this is what we did at the sales jobs I had in the past).
  • Taking a trip down memory lane, looking at your old photos.
  • Or my personal favorite, making video blogs and watching them.

On a level that a psychologist would appreciate, looking at photos of ourselves reminds us of the people we are trying to be.

 5 steps to a self control mindset

  1. Avoid temptation and triggers.
  2. Realize that your brain is tricking you! You aren't actually going to enjoy this tempting activity, it's just that there may be an unpredictable reward from it.
  3. Demoralize the activity; look at it in shades of gray, not black and white.
  4. Compartmentalize that activity for a future moment where you will be an ethical hedonist.
  5. Go eat a snack (like some healthy dark chocolate) or drink some coffee or green tea.



Consider that the incremental daily biological effects of practicing self-control will probably make the difference for someone you love, between living a long, happy life or dying, painfully and prematurely. Consider sharing this article (or the video version of it) with them.

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