Willpower Instincts: Moral Licensing

For the past month, I have been focused on reading “The Willpower Instinct, How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of ItKelly McGonigal” . I have enjoyed the first 70 pages of this book so far; hoping that I can take away some action items for personal development.


This book is about how human brain/mind deals with decision-making. It explains concepts such as willpower and self-control, and provides recommendations on how to improve this power.


The chapter I was reading today is about moral licensing. This chapter basically elaborates on why very good people sometimes fail in their morals and deal with great public dramas. The book claims that there is no exact logical definition of good and bad in human’s mind. Instead, we have a feeling that we have been good. Our right or wrong judgments are based on a gut feeling, and we only look into logics behind it when we are forced to explain our feelings.


Moral licensing tricks us to self-sabotaging behaviors. Basically, we give ourselves permission to follow our impulses and justify giving in to immediate rewards, because we feel good about our past good behaviors. We believe we deserve a treat, such as an extra piece of cake, because we have been good, by working out for an extra half an hour today


When we define our willpower challenge as something that is right to do, or something that we should do to be good, we are less likely to stick to it and we start to come up with arguments on why we shouldn’t have to. Here is where defining precise and measurable goals plays an important role.


Engineering Ring a.k.a Iron Ring: why I care about it?

I have managed losing my engineering ring more than 3 times since the day that I attended the ceremony. The first time I lost it, I was washing my hands when it slipped out of my finger and went right down the drain. Second time, I was dancing in an outdoor country music festival, and the ring slid out of my finger and fell on the ground. I could not manage finding the ring in the grass. Today marks the third time that I lost my iron ring.

I have no idea what happened this time. This morning when I came to my office and started working, I suddenly noticed that I’m not wearing my ring anymore. For the past months I had felt that the ring has become loose; some people claim that their hands shrink in winter. I can see why they may claim that! Anyway, I have to re-order my ring. It’s a painful process for me as I live in a remote area. But this engineering ring means a lot to me. Why?! It is not because it makes me feel important or because I like to show-off and make sure everybody knows I am an engineer. I love having my engineering ring on, mainly because whenever I see it, I remember my values and oaths. It also helps me focus on my personal development goals.

Here is the history behind Iron ring. (I have used Wikipedia as a reference for the following paragraphs).In Canada, engineers traditionally wear a small iron ring on the pinky of their working hands. As you can guess from the name, this ring is made of iron. Iron ring doesn’t have any real value, it is only a symbol of the pride engineers have in their profession and is a reminder of the obligations and ethics associated with engineering profession. To obtain this ring, engineering graduates must attend a special closed ceremony named “The Ritual of Calling an Engineer”. The first ceremony to award the ring was held in 1925 at the University of Toronto. This ring at the beginning is sharp and shiny, but as time goes by, it drags on the writing surface as the engineer is writing or drawing documents and goes rough. The purpose of wearing this ring on the working hand is to shape this transformation from a sharp ring (metaphor of lack of experience) to a rough (experienced) one. The protocol is to return the ring once the engineer retires.

I find the ceremony a bit archaic and funny. As engineers we are not supposed to disclose the details of the ceremony.


Yoga: Connection of body and mind

I have been attending Yoga classes here and there for the past year. One of the statements the instructors always use is “Your hips hold your emotions”, or at some specific poses, such as pigeon pose, they mention that we may feel emotional.

Each time I hear this, it makes me wonder if this statement has any science behind it? How could our hips store emotions? Why would these emotions store in our hips rather than anywhere else? How is this connection between our body and mind established?

Lunar Eclipse October 2014


After 7 years of being away from amateur Astronomy, this night I could convince myself to get up early (around 3:00 AM), only to observe the total lunar eclipse and take some photos. My tele-photo lens is not the best possible one you can purchase now, but this lens is perfect enough for a restart in Astrophotography. I was busy taking photos in cold for about two hours; when I came in, I noticed my lens is covered with a thin layer of ice. This Is something to keep in mind for my next attempts! Continue reading