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3 “F” Words to Hack your Willpower | Dave Asprey


Dave: When Vishen came on “Bulletproof Radio,”
my podcast, he set a new record. There’s been about 300 guests and his record
was for dropping the most f-bombs of any guests ever, which was kind of cool actually because
I wasn’t expecting that and knowing Vishen, it’s because he coined some amazing words
like unfuckwithable and brules and all the other things which are really great ways of
explaining some really complex topics. What else can I say about Vishen? Well, I could say lots of things, but one
of the things that I’m gonna do, sort of, to get even for that is I’m going to drop
a lot of f-words here. Is that cool? Audience: Yeah. Dave: The reason I’m gonna do that is that
we’re talking about willpower today. Willpower is something that I used to make
$6 million when I was 26. Unfortunately, I lost it when I was 28, which,
by the way, every reporter’s ever written that always forget the second sentence like,
now, I’ve really been working like everyone else, but I just had this brief moment of
money when I was young and didn’t know how to keep it, which is a different skill than
how to make it. And, I was pushing with every fiber of my
being because I was really, really tired and I was using my willpower like you wouldn’t
believe. And yeah, I was fat. In fact, I was so fat that I’m like never
am I gonna allow this happen again. I’d had three knee surgeries before I was
23 and arthritis on my knees since I was 14 and all sorts of other bad health stuff. So I was pushing against all of that weight. But I said, all right, willpower, here we
go. I worked out six days a week, an hour-and-a-half
a day. I could bench press all of my thin friends
while they ate french fries and I didn’t lose any weight. I cut my calories, cut my fat, I didn’t lose
any weight. And it just made me feel like there’s a reason,
I’m weak, it’s a moral failing, all I need to do is push harder. So I got really good at looking at willpower. And you fast forward way too much money and
a lot of time, and I understand a lot more about willpower and specifically how you can
hack it, because I believe now that the natural state of things is that they should be easy. And, there’s something to be said for working
hard, but I’d rather work hard on an easy problem than work hard because working hard
makes you a good person even though it didn’t have to be hard. It’s gonna be hard when it’s actually hard,
not when you made it hard. So, where does willpower come from? Willpower’s a biological resource that you
have and there’s all sorts of software thought patterns and things like that that can increase
your willpower. You can do a hypnosis with Marisa, you can
do other things that’ll give you changes in your software, but at the end of the day,
if you don’t have enough basic energy in your body, you will not have the willpower that
you were meant to have because you can’t make enough electrons in your brain and in your
heart, in your gut and then the rest of your body. Now, most of your willpower gets wasted. And what I found and what has absolutely changed
my life, allowed me to grow Bulletproof while I was working full-time as a vice president
at a publicly-traded company, succeeding in that job with stock options, all that stuff,
I’m like, “I’ll start a little blog on the side,” and grew it to where it is today. I did that because I was actively hacking
my willpower. If you were to, say, sit back, say I want
to design an organism, just an animal and I want to make it so that it’ll live through
anything. It’ll absolutely survive forever, tens of
thousands, millions of years. You need really only a few behaviors that
the animal has to have. And the first thing you might consider would
be run away or kill everything scary. It’s a really good base operating principle,
right? Pretty much everything that’s alive today,
including plants, has this wired in. Plants don’t run away very well, but there’s
a lot of them that’ll kill you. Just, you know, eat the right ones. So, okay, that’s a neat one. That’s our first f-word, fear. And that translates to a couple of other little
smaller f-words: fight or flight, your fight or flight response. That’s a bit of a problem here. What if, right now, your nervous system thinks
something is a threat? What’s it doing with your willpower? It’s wasting it. Absolutely wasting it. Now if I was to, you know, walk up like this
and give you a dirty look and almost fall off the stage, what happens is clinically
measurable, right? I’m a tall, relatively muscular guy. In fact, “The New York Times” says I’m almost
muscular, my favorite quote of my entire career, by the way. And I guarantee you that every guy in here
is wired so that if I do this, because I’m taller than you, sorry, we’re all a little
bit ape, your skin got slightly sweatier, your pupils dilated a little bit and you got
ready to run away, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re my friends, like
if I do that, it’s gonna hit you. And, we’re all wired that way and it’s okay,
but that part of us gets way, way out of control. So, when it’s time to go to sleep, you have
thoughts racing in your mind. What those are is fear. Something’s gonna kill me, I need to run away
or I need to be ready to kill it. And this has all sorts of metabolic effects
but worst of all, it takes away your willpower, it takes away your ability to do all the things
you are, it takes away your ability to be who you are. Here’s how and why it can do this. Inside your body, there’s a couple of different
systems, but one of them has to be really, really fast. This is that thing going back to we designed
an animal, it can run away or it can kill you. Well, it needs to do it without thinking about
it. You’re wired this way and it’s actually frightening
as all hell. If you were to say lean against a hot stove,
what happens? Do you, “I smell something, I guess I should
move my hand?” Something moves the hand. How many of you think it was you who moved
the hand? Not…good, good, you’re getting my point
here. Usually, some someone’s like, “I think so.” But here’s the point, it wasn’t you. It was another consciousness in your body,
one that you’re probably not aware of. In fact, one that you self-identify with and
you think it’s part of you. In fact, you might feel guilty that that part
of you got afraid or that part of you wanted to run away or that part of you caused you
to procrastinate, which is coming from that f-word fear and what’s happening is a speed
mismatch. I call this in my book the Labrador brain,
but you could call it a meat-operating system, if you’re more of a computer geek. This has to be there. It has to be there so you don’t fall off the
stage. I didn’t go, “I’m about to fall off the stage,
oops, I better lean back.” Like I felt there was nothing on my foot and
my body thankfully pushed me back. No thought required, elegant, amazing, sweet
ass hardware. The only problem is it keeps doing stuff because
the hardware hasn’t been programmed that well. What programmed your hardware? The environment programmed your hardware,
especially the environment, get this, in the womb, even; when you were born; and the first
seven years of life did the most; but if you’ve had some trauma after that, that can program
you. There are people who are fine, they go into
combat, some of the Bulletproof team are combat veterans and yeah, they get PTSD because the
environment, watching things blow up around you, kinda trains the automated meat-operating
system there are things around that might kill you. Get ready to run, get ready to fight. Those are our only two options, okay? That’s a big F that frankly is fucking with
you. There, I used the real f-word. The second thing that saps your willpower,
this is wasting your life, is the easiest one to hack, and one where I’ve spent a lot
of time given that I was obese, I’m still covered in stretch marks from when I was obese. I don’t know how to hack those, but I’m working
on it. That one is food. Your second big f-word, you have fear and
you have food. Now we all just ate, but everyone here has
something they really, really like. It might be a cherry turnover, a bagel or
a donut, a bowl of candy. Chocolate chip cookies were mine. I love chocolate chip cookies, I just actually
don’t crave them anymore. And, here’s what would happen in Silicon Valley,
this amazing change is happening. You go into a conference room and there’s
a plate of chocolate chip cookies. And I’ll tell you my inner dialogue and you
all probably know this because you have the same inner dialogue and it goes something
like this, “Eat the cookie.” Then you go, “No.” Right? And then predictably, it says, “Eat the cookie.” And you say “No.” And so on and so forth, and pretty soon, you’re
like, “It’d be really nice if you eat the cookie, think how good you’ll feel if you
eat the cookie. Imagine one bite of that cookie.” In fact, salivary glands, come on, play with
me. Who controls the salivary glands? Not you, the other little bastard in there. It’s pretty soon, “You know, I wasn’t gonna
eat the cookie, but if I just have a bite of the cookie…” You’re negotiating. You don’t negotiate with terrorists, but you
did. Then you have one bite of the cookie and the
meat-operating system’s like bam, “Species survival achieved, this creature will not
starve to death,” which is why if you take a labrador retriever for a walk, it’ll eat
gutter tacos. It doesn’t matter if it’s gonna throw up all
over your carpet a little while later, “It’s food. I might starve. Eat the food.” Okay. Basic wiring and it’s actually really useful. If you wanted to take a non-human stupid animal,
pretty much eat until you can’t eat anymore, and always do that to make sure you survive. Pretty good operating system principle, so
run away or kill stuff, and eat everything, right? We’re all wired that way. And remember we talked about that hot thing
we touched, the part of you that said, “Eat the cookie,” and the part of you that convinced
you to eat the cookie against your will, well, it’s much faster than you. It’s wired to respond to the environment and
it has something called a fast path in the brain. Your thinking, the part of you that’s actually
you is the slow path. If you’re gonna think about something, you
can use your prefrontal cortex. What’s going on there is a little bit disturbing
because something else interpreted the environment. It probably changed the way you interpreted
the environment given that it sits between you and the environment and it’s seriously,
seriously stupid, but seriously fast. You, on the other hand, are seriously, seriously
smart and notoriously slow. The speed mismatch is a huge source of willpower
drain because that conversation about the cookie, eat it, no, eat it, no. What that did is that made you make a series
of decisions and those decisions are expensive. We’ve all heard that decisions are a finite
thing. We have a finite amount of willpower. There’s a great study done in Israel. If you’re in jail and you want to get out,
just get one of the morning meetings with the parole board because they’re fresh. They haven’t made many decisions. You have a 90% chance of getting out of jail. You get the last meeting of the day, you have
a 90% chance of staying in jail. It has nothing to do with what you did or
didn’t do. It has everything to do with how many decisions
the people on the board made. So, if you’re sitting there and you eat a
breakfast and the breakfast makes you have food cravings at 10:00 AM and you’ve said,
“I’m not gonna eat any food because I don’t want to get fat,” then you, eat it, no, one
decision; eat it, no, another decision; eat it, no, another decision. Pretty soon, your decision capacity has been
drained for the day and now, you need to make a decision. Should I buy that company? Should I go to the next A-fest? I’m guessing that was an easy decision, but
still, it was a decision, right? That is a major source, I would say at least
a third to a half of where your willpower goes every single day, if you are not controlling
that part of your biology. And I did not know, when I was obese, the
difference between a craving and hunger. And it turns out hunger is a much gentler
thing than a craving, but for most of us, they’re so intertwined that you just, “I’ll
just have a snack, I’ll just have a snack.” The snacking thing actually means that you’re
giving in to this terrorist inside of you, but if you’re using willpower to not give
in to the terrorist, then you’re burning up all your willpower. So most of us are sitting around much weaker
than we should be because we’re either giving into a terrorist or we’re spending all of
our time resisting the terrorist. That kinda sucks. There is a way around this. We’ll get there. We’re already have two Fs. We have fear, we have food. Anyone want to guess the other f-word for
me? Audience: [inaudible 00:13:52]. Dave: Yeah, you guys laughed because you got
it, it’s fuck. All right? Okay. Remember we wanted the species to survive
forever. Okay. Run away from scary stuff, got it, eat everything,
got it, fuck everything. Okay, we’ve guaranteed species survival. Now, I’m going to explain a moment that happens
in a person’s mind. Okay? You’re on a hot date, things are getting a
little hotter maybe than you planned and maybe you didn’t really plan any protection. Now, a logical person would say, “Well, let’s
just play, but let’s not actually have sex because, you know, you might get pregnant.” A little problem there if it’s not what you’re
trying to do. So, here’s what actually happens. The little voice that made you eat the cookie,
“If you don’t have sex right now, you’ll die.” All of us have felt that, except the virgin
in the back over there I’m not pointing at, you know. This actually happens. The same voice that said, “The cookie, if
you don’t eat the cookie, you’ll die. And if you don’t run away from that scary
thing, that’s not actually a threat, you’ll die.” So what’s sucking up your willpower? Well, you want to eat everything, you want
to hump every leg you come across, if you’re the labrador, and you’re scared when you shouldn’t
be scared. What that means is that your challenge to
turn up your willpower is to control that labrador in your head. And there’s a word that really resonates with
me and it’s one that’s been idolized and fetishized in the U.S. or just in the western world even. And it’s struggle, like it’s good to struggle. And my picture of struggling looks like this. How many of you have ever seen a puppy go
for a walk? I’m guessing many of you, I don’t know how
many people have dogs these days. But if you watch someone with a new dog go
for a walk, it’s something like this. You hold the leash and you pull the dog along
and it fights you and it lays on its back and it like pees on itself. And it does all the things young dogs do,
but it struggles and it fights. And if you’re like most of us, at a certain
point, you get the dog to a certain stage where it usually doesn’t pee on the rug and
only sometimes eats the cookies that you left on the counter and it does other dog-like
things but it’s within tolerances. But, other times, something amazing will happen. You’ll see someone walking with a dog and
they stop, the dog stops. They turn the dog turns. In fact, the dog might even be a service dog
or a police dog or any of the other extremely well-trained dogs where it doesn’t take any
effort because the dog is attuned to its master. You have a labrador in your head and your
job is to train that labrador to behave like a service dog instead of to struggle all the
time. The other thing that is most important for
you to have the most willpower and for you to do the most good in the world that you
wanna do is you need to right now understand that that labrador in your head is there for
a reason. It is there to keep your meat alive, whether
or not you’re in there, and that it is not you. So, if you’re feeling guilty about the fact
that you really wanted to have sex in that really bizarre way over there, dude, that’s
your dog. You may want to like let your dog go play,
that’s all fine. However, for you to internalize that and then
feel guilty about the things the dog does, you eat the whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s, yeah,
there’s a reason for that. It might be emotional. It’s not because you’re a bad person. It’s not a moral failing. It’s not because you’re weak, which is what
we’re universally taught. It’s because another consciousness that resides
inside your meat that is faster than you and infinitely dumber than you convinced you to
do it. Your challenge is to simply grow discernment
so that you can figure out what’s the labrador and what’s you. And when you learn how to do that, then you
realize, “Okay, I’ve now changed my software, I’m now in charge.” And then it comes time to doing the biological
upgrades that I’m gonna talk about in the next 20-minute talk because those biological
upgrades give you more energy so that you can do more. One of the mistakes that you can make though
is to pour on a lot more energy without having this precious understanding of what’s going
on inside your meat-operating system. Because if you pour on a lot more energy,
yet you’re still struggling all the time, you’re gonna waste most of the energy on struggling,
you’re gonna eat a lot more cookies, you’re gonna hump a lot more legs, and you’re gonna
run away from things even faster, but you’re not gonna do what you wanted to do. That said, if you want to train the dog, you
better feed it well, because anyone who’s tried to train a hungry dog or a hungry child
knows it’s not possible. They really won’t listen. They’ll do it for treats for a little while
and after that, it’s game over. So, start managing your behaviors, your automated
species survival behaviors as if they’re trainable and as if they’re not your conscious behaviors. What you are doing, and this has been proven
in psychological research, is that you’re reacting to the people around you, to the
environment around you, and then your conscious brain tells you a story about why you logically
reacted. What really happened, your body did what it
was gonna do, you felt what you were gonna feel, You felt that and then you decided why
you felt that but the story is a lie. And, when I do the 40 Years of Zen neurofeedback
programming, I learned that. Because when you have a lie detector on yourself
for 10 weeks, every story I’ve ever told myself that’s a lie, well, a lie detector tells you
that. You’re like, “Damn, I really liked that story,”
but that’s not actually how it was. So what you just got is a very fast discussion
of what happens inside your body. The biggest leak of willpower is applying
your precious effort to things that are automated and urges from an untrained animal that’s
thrashing around inside your body. So it’s all about training, and then it’s
about upgrading, which is where we’re gonna go next.

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Comments
  • this is an amazing talk! However, I do acctually disagree with the one of his founding points. I beleive that it is our concious ego that needs the cookie and the sex whereas the "You" inside is the smarter one. they fight

  • Hi,
    Charles Poliquin talks about a solution for stretch marks in his podcast with Tim Ferriss. Maybe this information helps someone, or maybe will even reach Dave somehow.

  • Most of the talk is adapted from the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, without giving proper credit where it is due.

  • He has no charisma and dresses badly. I bet women want to get the fuck away from him at parties. “I made six million dollars when I was fat.””Don’t talk to me!”

  • Share your thoughts, we'd love to hear them 😃 For more transformational education with the world’s best teachers. Sign up for Mindvalley Mentoring and get access NOW 👉 https://go.mindvalley.com/bCVCuW2e

  • I unsubscribed to mind Valley because of you and Dave because you’re completely wrong about sexual energy and almost bordering on Reptillian trying to shut down our sexual centers. I was listening to one of your podcasts and I started cracking up because I have experience the opposite when it comes to sexual energy! Orgasm bathes your body in white light and it opens your chakras I don’t care what the taoists say I transcend Limited thinking from the patriarchy that says I have to abstain? That’s just another rule imposed upon us by dark leaders trying to oppress and control humankind by putting a trap on our minds And a leash on our genitals When I get together with my lover we are so happy and energized the more energized and high vibration we experience and he is not a spiritual person but this is what he is experiencing and this is what I am experiencing so for me the more sex I have the better and for him definitely better so I’m sorry but you sound like a Jehovah’s Witness believe me I grew up oppressed then I woke up and I refuse to feel guilty because sex is a great stress relief and unless I’m some kind of fairy succubus like lost girl on Syfy channel I get energized I don’t feel like I’m losing energy and neither does he I’m 53 he’s in his 60s

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