Most of us wish we could improve certain things about ourselves. Lasting change is difficult: Many of our habits are deeply ingrained, and certain core personality attributes may be immutable. But even the oldest of habits and character traits can be altered to varying degrees, as it's never too late to change; with effort and determination, it is possible to be the person you want to be.
Self-control separates us from our ancient ancestors and the rest of the animal kingdom, thanks to our large prefrontal cortex. It is the ability to subdue our impulses in order to achieve longer-term goals.
We’ve all wished we could be someone else, whether it’s just polishing a few dull spots in our personality or fully rewriting the story of our lives, Jay Gatsby-style. If you're a procrastinator, you may have wished you could be more productive; if you're gloomy, you may have hoped you could be more optimistic; if you're shy, you may have longed to be the life of the party.
It's no secret that we need calories to fuel the body's basic energy needs. Yet many of us find it difficult to take in the right amount—and the right kind—of fuel. No matter how many guidelines we're given, we still crave what we know is bad for us.
How do you get people to think and behave a little differently? Persuasion is an art—If you push too hard, you will risk being aggressive. If you nudge too lightly, you may turn into a pest. A thoughtful, persuasive argument can lead you to getting what you want.
Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we'll feel tomorrow, or the next day.