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 It – Kelly 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.