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Improving our lives involves changing our behaviors and habits. Changing the world requires living your purpose – accomplishing goals which benefit others.

Much of what has been written about these two topics have focused on willpower; the ability to do something challenging or not do something by restraining impulses.

Conventional wisdom has been: More Willpower = More Accomplishment.

What I’m learning is that willpower – the go-to tool for most of us when we try to change or accomplish our goals is like a muscle. Willpower quickly becomes tired and weak. Thus, we leave in our wake is long a string of broken promises and failed resolutions.

“Emotional Success is as inspiring as it is practical. DeSteno shows us how to use our feelings of gratitude, compassion, and authentic pride to improve our lives—and the world.”

— Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive and The Sleep Revolution

When it comes to goals that require grit, David DeSteno, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, points us in the direction of emotions, not willpower. In his new book Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride he shows us how we can avoid temptation and achieve success.

You can listen to a podcast interview with DeSteno at http://bit.ly/EmotionalSuccess. Or read an interview with him in The Atlantic.

DeSteno says, gratitude, compassion, and pride are prosocial emotions which evolved to allow our ancestors to forego instant gratification and develop relationships. Both of which helped ensure our survival.

Today, we can use these emotions to develop a relationship with our future self – the one who benefits from our delayed gratification. When we view this person as a stranger, research shows that we opt for today’s pleasure over achieving long-term goals.

If we only had a time machine to visit our future self. Thanks to the app, AgingBooth, we do. AgingBooth allows you to upload a photo and see your older, future self. The result of meeting your future self can mean investing more for retirement, getting out for exercise, making healthy food choices, and giving up habits you know are bad for you, and living your purpose.

As you continue on your journey to improve your life and the world, treat your current self with compassion, practice gratitude and take pride in your small successes. This may work better than willpower, shame, blame, and beating yourself up.

Remember, if you don’t like this kinder gentler way of achieving your goals you can always go back to your old habit.

Live a Bold & Authentic Life

Matt

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