And how it can reinforce the Christian understanding of human behaviour.
I recently listened to a recorded lecture series which was intended to help people increase their self-control in order to have better lives. It was called the Willpower Instinct and was by Kelly McGonigal. It is available as a book or recorded lectures.
As I listened to this I had a number of thoughts. First, there is plenty here to help Christians to become more moral – I will describe these later on in this blog article.
Second, she approaches this subject as a pure scientist who observes the influences on human behavior in order to help people have great self-control. While I wouldn’t quarrel with her observations as a scientist or her methods for controlling personal behavior based upon those observations; I would say that her explanations as to why they work were, for the most part, unproven hypothesis. In fact, it sounded to me as though a Christian understanding of the human person could add even more to what she was offering. I will discuss how in a separate article. Here I want to consider how it struck me that her presentation might help Christians.
These recorded lectures were based upon talks and workshops that she offers that use modern psychological research to help people to gain self control. From the sound of it a lot of her clients are addicts and failed dieters. Through her workshops, she helps people to assert their will power over their own behavior. She defines will power as the capacity to do what part of you really wants to do when another part of you really doesn’t want to do it.
What it seems to boil down to in these lectures is trying to order our lives so that they are generally governed by our long term goals rather than short term responses. In order to do this we need to be able to do two things:
1. Do things that part of us doesn’t want to do.
2. Resist the desire to do things that part of does want to do.
So, for the addict the need is to learn how to resist that part of us that desires the pleasure of taking whatever substance or indulging in whatever behavior we are addicted to. For those who are procrastinating over doing something that we know gives long term benefits, it is about learning to overcome that (Read More)