This Was the Year in Willpower

A collection of the top 10 "Science of Willpower" posts and videos in 2012.

Posted Dec 12, 2012

Each year, I like to pull together the most-read blog posts of the year. It's always fascinating to see what gets tweeted, emailed, and read, and what gets lost in the dustbin of internet debris. So, ladies and gentlemen, this was the year in willpower:

1. Science-Based Strategies for Getting Over Your Ex

Five tips, based on latest science of willpower, for moving on.

2. Five Temptations That Actually Boost Your Willpower

Eat, drink, laugh, and nap your way to more energy, focus, and self-control. (I'm shocked, I tell you shocked, OK completely NOT shocked, that this post would be one of the most popular. It also got picked up by the print magazines Psychology Today and Reader's Digest.)

3. Does Self-Compassion or Self-Criticism Motivate Self-Improvement?

New research finds that forgiving yourself works best, and boosts motivation. Some simple self-compassion exercises to get started.

4. Is Your Mind Separate From Your Body?

How mind-body beliefs shape your choices and influence your health.

5. Try This: Willpower Experiment for Making Smarter, Healthier Choices

The brain is easier to fool than we think -- and how to trick yourself into better behavior.

6. Why It’s Hard to Let Go of Clutter

A new study investigates the neuroscience of hoarding, and finds that throwing things out is literally painful to your brain.

7. Why Leaders Have More Willpower, and More Willpower Failures

Leaders are natural willpower athletes, but are also at greater risk for willpower exhaustion.

#8 and #9 are the top two video posts of 2012:

8. Are You Sure You Want a Habit?

In this talk to the Habit Formation meet-up group in San Francisco, I describe the main ways the approach of habit design fails, especially when it comes to what I call "really freakin' hard changes" like addiction, weight loss, or overcoming anxiety. Yeah, it was a bit cheeky to challenge habit design at this event, but the talk ended up going very well.

9. Addicted to Your Devices? 3 Ways to Break Free

I stopped by the Toronto studios of the CBC to give the following 3-min advice about how to gain more willpower over your cellphone, Angry Birds, Facebook, or whatever tech-drug has you never satisfied but always seeking.

And finally, drumroll please.....for number 10, I share not the 10th most popular post, but the least read post of 2012. In a year that celebrated the 99%, and an election that hinged on the 47%, I say that this post is the most relevant, if the not the most retweeted. :)

10. Does This Economy Make Me Look Fat?

Economic inequality makes us sicker, stressed out, and yes, even fatter. Why we should all care about the rising inequality in our society, whether you're in the 1% or 99%.

Wondering what you missed last year? Check out the most popular Science of Willpower Posts from 2011.

Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist at Stanford University. Her latest book is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. She is also the author of The Neuroscience of Change and Yoga for Pain Relief.

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