DiscoverThe Science of Success
The Science of Success

The Science of Success

Author: Matt Bodnar presents the The #1 Evidence Based Growth Podcast on the Internet. The Science of Success is about psychology, decision-making, and much more. Similar to Tim Ferriss, Hidden Brain, Robert Cialdini, Lewis Howes, & Freakonomics

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The #1 Evidence Based Growth Podcast on the Internet. The Science of Success is about the search for evidence based personal growth. It's about exploring ways to improve your decision-making, understand your mind and how psychology rules the world around you, and learn from experts and thought leaders about ways we can become better versions of ourselves.
141 Episodes
The Death of Time Management & How You Can Manipulate Time with Laura Vanderkam
In this episode we tell the truth about time. We throw out the old and dated conceptions of “time management” and look at how time really works. We explore the fundamental way you must flip your approach to time so that you can focus on what really matters in life. We look at how you can become an artist manipulating time at your will - stretching your best moments so that they last longer and ruthlessly removing the things that clutter your life. If you feel pressed for time - like there is never enough - and want to figure out how to create time for what really matters - listen to this episode with our guest Laura Vanderkam. Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books. Her TED talk titled “How To Gain Control of Your Free Time” has been viewed over 5 million times and she is the co-host of the podcast Best of Both Worlds. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Fortune.Does time management work? Is time management a concept with too much baggage associated with it to even be meaningful?It’s not about cramming so much stuff into your life - it’s about focusing on the most important things. Fundamentally flip your approach - removing as much as possible is much more important than cramming as much as possible into your dayPeople who were highly relaxed around their time had a tendency to plan “mini adventures” in their lives Putting more valuable stuff into our lives makes time more memorable. If you want to feel like you have more time you need to create more memories. Can we become “artists manipulating time” to stretch the best moments so that they last longer?Anticipation is powerful - starting savoring before it startsBe as present as possible, notice details, think about how you might describe it to someoneTell the story of what happened - every time you tell it you get pleasure from itCommemorate it with artifacts (ticket stubs, t-shirts, etc)Play the same song over and over again to encode that song to a specific memory or experienceCreate as many memories as possible - more memories makes time expand Time is highly elastic - it stretches to accommodate what we need or want to fit into it Time management is not about shaving extra hours out of every day - it’s about selecting the right prioritiesIf you’ve ever binged something on Netflix - you found extra time because you had something that was a big priorityLack of Time = Lack of Priorities “Reflective Activities” like journaling, meditating, praying - stepping back from life and thinking about life - people with the highest time perception and time management scores did these every other day, the lowest scores people never did itPart of feeling relaxed about your time is knowing when and how you’re spending your leisure timeLetting go of expectations is a great time management strategy Planning your weeks before you’re in them is a great strategy to make time for your priorities FIRSTMake a 3 category priority list:CareerRelationshipsSelfEach one of those categories is key!!A great tactic for setting your short to medium term goals - writing a “Performance Review” (for next year)Look at this list all the timeIt can start informing your schedule choicesHow do we create more effective morning and evening routines?Homework: Track your time for a week (if you can’t track it for a day or two)Homework: Plan a “mini adventure” during the work day or after work this week - do something different, put a little adventure into your lifeLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
Speak & Present With Total Confidence Using These Tactics with Matt Abrahams
In this episode we show you the science of communication. Have you ever been afraid to speak or present? Are you worried about not having the skills or tools to communicate your ideas to the world? We dig into the science and the strategies of mastering skills like speaking and presenting, crushing the anxiety that often accompanies thee high stakes moments, and share evidence based strategies for becoming  a master communicator. Matt Abrahams is a Professor of Strategic Communication for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He is the co-founder of Bold Echo Communication Solutions and author of the book Speaking Up Without Freaking Out. Matt’s videos and training techniques have been viewed tens of millions of times in TEDx, Inc. and much more!What happens when you rip your pants in the middle of a big speech?Anxiety can have a tremendously negative impact on our ability to to communicateConfidence in speaking and what it means to be authentic and how to be an engaging communicator Anxiety negatively impacts communication in two major waysAudiences have trouble listening to a nervous speakerYou get caught up in your own head A foundational tenant of all communication is to be audience centric - your job is to serve the needs of your audience Research sees anxiety about speaking and communicating as ubiquitous across ages, cultures etcFear of communication is hard-wired intro your brain by evolution and it’s social pressuresThere are two fundamental approaches to dealing with anxietyDealing with the symptomsDealing with the actual sources of anxietySpeaking in high stakes situations is internalized by your body as a threatHold something cold in the palm of your hand it can reduce your body temperature and counter-act sweating and blushing that results from anxiety. Distracting your audience is a great strategy to take their focus off of you. Give the audience something to distract them and get them more engagedIf you gesture more slowly you will actually slow down your speaking rateGreet your anxiety - give yourself permission to be anxious. This is how you short circuit the loop of getting nervous about getting nervous. This works with any emotion, not just anxiety. The powerful learnings from improv comedy that can make you be a more confidence speaker Dare to be dull - don’t strive for perfection. Do what needs to be done, and by reducing the pressure you put on yourself you increase the likelihood that you will actually achieve a great outcome.The “Shout the wrong name” exercise that can help you reduce your anxiety in real timeConstraints and structure invite more opportunities for creativity (in life) and in communicationThe components of confidenceManaging anxietyCreating presence & meta awareness - adapt your communication to what’s happening the moment Convey emotion - confidence speakers convey emotion You have to tie the data and facts back into the emotions - the implications of the science and the dataThe “What?,” “So What?,” “Now What?” Structure The answerWhy its importantWhat you do with the answer that’s just givenHomework - Take the opportunity too build your skills. Like any skill you’re trying to build -  it’s all aboutRepetition - find avenues to speak and give presentationsReflection - ask yourself what worked and what didn’t workFeedback - find a trusted other - a mentor, a colleague, a loved one who can give you honest feedback. We are bad at judging our own communicationLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
Stop Chasing Happiness and Do This Instead with Emily Esfahani Smith
In this episode we discuss happiness. Can the pursuit of happiness backfire? Why are people more depressed an anxious than ever in a time when the world is physically safer and healthier than ever before in history? We look at the crisis of meaning in our society and examine how we can cultivate real meaning in our lives, beyond ourselves, and move towards an existence of purpose with our guest Emily Esfahani Smith. Emily Esfahani Smith is a journalist, positive psychology instructor, and author. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned a master of applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her articles have been read over 30 million times, her TED talk has over 1.3 million views and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TIME, the TED stage, and more.Should we be pursuing happiness?There’s more to life than being happyWhen we pursue happiness - it’s very self-oriented2 reasons why the “pursuit of happiness can backfire"It’s not possible to be happy all the time - and it’s a fool's errand to try and pursue happiness all the time - it’s not a realistic expectation for your lifeHappiness is very “self-focused” - how is this affecting ME - its a very selfish perception People are healthier, safer, more comfortable than any time in history - and yet anxiety and depression are increasing, suicide rates are increasing - why is this happening?Meaning is about connecting and contributing to something beyond yourself - being connecting to your family, to god, to nature, to the universe, etc Some of the essential characteristics of people with meaning in their livesYour life has worth and significanceYour life has a sense of purposeYour life is coherentHow can we find meaning beyond ourselves in a world where most of our major social institutions have eroded away to a large degree (patriotism, religion, family, etc)?In the modern era - the challenge of being alive is the challenge of trying to find meaning on your ownThe Four Pillars of MeaningBelonging - being in communities and relationships where you feel valued for who you are intrinsicallyPurpose - using your strengths to serve other people. Having something worthwhile to do with your time. Making a contribution to the world. Children who do chores around the house have a higher sense of meaningTranscendence - when your sense of self-starts to turn down or turn off completely. Stepping beyond yourself.Storytelling - the story that you tell yourself about yourselfHow do we create belonging in your life?Forming intimate relationships with othersBelonging is a choice that we make - and we can choose to cultivate in any given momentYou can also take the initiative to create these new types of communities within your own life and communityHow do we change the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves?The first thing is to recognize that we are constantly telling ourselves stories about ourselvesA “contamination” story and how that can change your self-perception and create negative results in your life?Something happened in my life, then there was a negative result, not I’m “contaminated"A “redemptive” story - a story that moves from bad things happening to good things happeningSomething bad happened in my life, and that has made me grow, made me stronger If you’re telling a negative story, how do you start telling a better story?Narrative writing, journaling Is leading a meaningful life just about accomplishment and achieving results?Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When the Impossible Becomes Possible - The Secrets of Flow Revealed with Steven Kotler
In this episode we discuss how the impossible becomes possible. We look at how to create paradigm shifting breakthroughs, dig into the science and research at the frontier of peak human performance to understand what’s at the core of nearly every gold medal or world championship - the powerful concept of flow. How do we create flow in our lives, how can we use it as a tool to become 400% more creative and learn skills 200% faster? We dig into this and much more with our guest Steven Kotler. Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist and the cofounder and director of research of the Flow Genome Project. His most recent work, Stealing Fire, was a national bestseller and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Steven’s work have been translated into over 40 languages and appeared in over 100 publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired and TIME.Wherever people are taking huge risks to change the world, you find flow How do you create Paradigm Shifting Breakthroughs?Whenever you see the impossible become possible you see two things:People leverage and take advantage of disruptive technologyPeople finding ways to extend human capacityPeak performance is about being fanatical - repeating, week after week, year after year, for your entire career. You have to have that level of hunger, motivation, and driveSteven’s work is focused on studying the peak performance state known as FlowHow can we use Flow to massively level up performance?Major Characteristics of FlowFlow is definable - it has  core characteristicsComplete ConcentrationTime DilationFlow is measurableFlow is universalFlow is a spectrum experience - you can be in micro flow or macro flowFlow often mistaken for a mystical experience before it was measured and studiedMcKinsey did a 10 year study on flow - it made top executives 500% more effectiveFlow creates a 400% - 700% increase in creativityCan that really be true?What is creativity?Soldiers learn skills 230% faster in flow statesWhen you’re in a flow state you’re actually using LESS of your brain not more of itYour brain is burning a lot of energy and so it shut’s this part of the brain downAs your need for concentration goes up, the brain starts shutting down non-critical areas to maximize attentionFlow also creates a huge dump of positive neurochemicals and stress hormones are flushed out of your system and replaced with “big five” neurochemicalsAnybody can access flow because flow stats have triggers - flow is universal provided certain initial conditions are metOne of the most important triggers is the challenge/skills balance - when the challenge slightly exceeds our skillset“Let my people go surfing” - PatagoniaTraining up flow while you’re surfing trains the brain to enter flow states in generalHeightened creativity lasts for several daysConscious altered and being focused is usually 1-1.5 hrsA place where most people screw up Flow - they take the amplified creativity from flow and ride it til the very bitter end until they are very exhausted. That makes it more difficult to jump into flow the next time. The intersection of flow states and the Science of SpiritualityThe same neurobiological states from flow show up in the same place as mystical experiences, psychedelic states, states of awe, near death experiences. All of these experiences neurobiologically are very very similar.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Making Smart Decisions When You Don’t Have All The Facts with Annie Duke
In this episode we discuss how to make better decisions under conditions of uncertainty. We look at “the worst call in the history of football,” discuss examples from life, business and even high stakes poker to understand how to make the best possible decisions in a a world filled with unknowns. What exactly is a good decision? Is that different than a good outcome? We look at this key question - and uncover the wisdom hidden in the reality that these two things might be completely different. All this and more with our guest Annie Duke. Annie is a professional decision strategists and former professional poker player. She has leveraged her expertise in the science of smart decision making throughout her life and for two decades was one of the top poker players in the world. She is the author of the book Thinking In Bets: Making Smart Decisions When You Don’t Have All The Facts and after being granted the National Science Foundation Fellowship, studied Cognitive Psychology at The University of Pennsylvania.How do we get create lessons from our experiences?How do we sort out the noise in the gap between decision quality and outcome quality?In poker (like life) you can make really good decision and have a really bad outcome - but that doesn’t mean that you made a bad decisionThis fuzzy relationship between decision making and outcomes can be very problematic for people “Resulting”- tying the quality of the outcome too tightly to the quality of decisionsAn unlucky / bad outcome is not the same as a bad decisionRed lights and green lights - and how they can shine a light on hidden risks to decision-makingThe only thing that matters is not the result - but the process  of making decisions - because that is all we can controlIn our own lives we constantly lurch into over-reactions when we focus only on results and not on our decision-making qualityStrategy #1: Approach the world through the frame of decisions as betsWhy you should ask “Wanna Bet?” to get more clarity about a situationThere are 2 major sources of uncertainty between Decisions and OutcomesLuck/RandomnessInformation AsymmetryStrategy #2: Get other people involved in the process with youYou are really good at recognizing other people’s bias, even when you can’t see your ownWhen you’re trying to make a decision (or a bet) the person who will win is the person who has the most accurate “mental model” or model of realityStrategy #3: Try to quarantine yourself from experienceEscape the quality of the outcome and how it impacts your assessment - unless you have enough data to actually verify it Key Steps to Focusing on the Decision-Making Process Not the OutcomeEvaluate decisions prior to getting the outcomeCreate a Decision Pod of other people who can challenge your thinkingThe key to making effective decisions is to multiply the probability of the outcome by the impact/magnitude Homework #1: find a group of people who are open minded, who want to be better decision-makers, and agree together that you want to question each others thinking, not be defensive, hold each other accountable to biasHomework #2: Start listening to yourself for signals that you might be engaging in biased behavior, using the words wrong/right, should ofHomework #3: Discuss a decision with 2 different people and give them opposite “outcomes” (Tell one it went really well, tell the other it went really poorly) to get clear sense of different sides of the coinLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
Why The Science of Trait Psychology May Just Predict Everything In Your Life with Dr. Brian R. Little
In this episode we go deep on the science of personality. We look at how we’ve moved way beyond the debate of nature vs nurture, we look at the “Myth of Authenticity" and the danger of “just being yourself,” we examine why human wellbeing (aka success) depends on the sustainable pursuit of core projects in our lives, explore the complex dance of self improvement between the limitation of biological, social factors and the identity of individuals, and look at how much agency and control we really have in shaping our personalities and lives among all of these different factors with our guest Dr. Brian Little. What is Trait Psychology?Traits do have predictive validity“The Big Five” personality model is the most dominant perspective in personality trait psychologyOCEANOpenness to experienceConscientiousnessExtraversionAgreeablenessNeuroticism Honesty / humility is a sixth factor that may not be included in the “Big Five” modelThese personality traits have consequential predictive ability for your life outcomes, happiness, marriage, success, divorce, etcThe trait of conscientiousness is a very good predictor of work place success but also predicts health outcomes, why is that?Disagreeable people also have a health risk factor - low agreeableness shows an increased risk for heart diseaseOpenness-to-experience and conscietouness have different paths to success - but both can be successful predictors of positive life outcomesThe myth of the creative hero. The creative project is much more important than the illusion of the solo creative.How changeable or immutable are our personality traits? Are we stuck with the personality we are born with?Your trait expressions can be shaped not just by your biology but also by the things that really matter to you - by your own “personal projects”If you constantly act out of character - you may eventually run the risk of burning outThe study of our traits gets us INTO the study of personality but not ALL THE WAY inWe’ve moved WAY beyond the nature vs nurture debate Genetic expression is a matter of external influence than shapes the expression of genesThere is a biological “base” to our personality - but it’s a base that we can either act against or act in accordance with itSelf improvement is a dance between biological, social, and individual factors Traits are a necessary way of understanding personality but they are not sufficient We explore "The Bodnarian Aspects of Matt"We are not just pawns - we can shape things and change the trajectory of our lives (within reasonable boundaries)“Go for it” feels good - but its often a cheap way out - take a harder look and really look at the best path forward for yourself Accepting and facing reality as it is - including your own limitations and weaknesses - is an essential component of successHuman wellbeing (“success”) depends on the sustainable pursuit of core projects in our lives. Natural dispositions that we don’t borrow from our cultural scripts are the first line of influence that help shape what becomes the core projects in our livesOut of the stew emerge biological shaped, but also socially influenced possible futures for yourself that are anchored in core projects The sustainable pursuit of core projects is vital - the way in which we get them isHomework: If you want to play outside your personality comfort zone, start with small uncomfortable changes and gradually build into more and more difficult situations Homework: Conduct short term experiments, self change experiments, “fixed role explorations” and then monitor the impact that has on your personality and behaviorLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
Self Help For Smart People - How You Can Spot Bad Science & Decode Scientific Studies with Dr. Brian Nosek
In this episode, we show how you can decode scientific studies and spot bad science by digging deep into the tools and skills you need to be an educated consumer of scientific information. Are you tired of seeing seemingly outrageous studies published in the news, only to see the exact opposite published a week later? What makes scientific research useful and valid? How can you, as a non-scientist, read and understand scientific information in a simple and straightforward way that can help you get closer to the truth - and apply those lessons to your life. We discuss this and much more with Dr. Brian Nosek. Dr. Brian Nosek is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science and a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. Brian led the reproducibility project which involved leading some 270 of his peers to reproduce 100 published psychology studies to see if they could reproduce the results. This work shed light on some of the publication bias in the science of psychology and much more.Does the science show that extrasensory perception is real?Is there something wrong with the rules of the science or the way that we conduct science?What makes academic research publishable is not the same thing as what makes academic research accuratePublication is the currency of advancement in scienceNovel, positive, cleanWhat does “Nulls Hypothesis significance testing” / P-Value less than .05 even mean?Less than 5% of the time would you observe this evidence if there was no relationshipThe incentives for scientific publishing often skew, even without conscious intent by scientists, towards only publishing studies that support their hypothesis and conclusionsThe conclusions of many scientific studies may not be reproducible and may, in fact, be wrong How the reasoning challenges and biases of human thinking skew scientific results and create false conclusionsConfirmation biasOutcome bias“The Reproducibility Project” in psychologyTook a sample of 100 studies Across those 100 studies - the evidence was able to be reproduced only 40% of the timeThe effect size was 50% of what it was What The Reproducibility Project spawned was not a conclusion, but a QUESTIONHow do we as lay consumers determine if something is scientifically valid or not?We discuss the basic keys to understanding, reading, and consuming scientific studies as a non-scientist and ask how do we determine the quality of evidence?Watch out for any DEFINITIVE conclusionsThe sample size is very important, the larger the betterAggregation of evidence is better - “hundreds of studies show"Meta-studies / meta-analysis are important and typically more credibleLook up the original paperIs there doubt expressed in the story/report about the data? (how could the evidence be wrong, what needs to be proven next, etc)Valid scientific research often isn’t newsworthy - it takes lots of time to reach valid scientific conclusions It’s not just about the OUTCOME of a scientific study - the confidence in those outcomes is dependent on the PROCESS Where do we go from here as both individuals and scientists? How can we do better?Transparency is keyPreregistration - commit to a designThe powerful tool of “pre-registration” and how you can use it to improve your own thinking and decision-makingHomework - deliberately seek out people who disagree with you, build a “team of rivals"Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Real Life Inception – From Bank Robbery to Neuroscience with Dr. Moran Cerf
In this episode we discuss real life inception with a former bank robber turned neuroscientist. Is it possible to plant ideas in your head? Are your memories an accurate reflection of past reality? Can you change and mold your memories to be different? We open the door on human irrationality and explore why and how we make bad decisions, and what you can do to make small changes that will create a big impact in your life and much more with our guest Moran Cerf. How Moran went from an accomplished bank robber to a prominent neuroscientistMost times in life we tell our story backwards to make sense of the pastAre people rational actors who make decisions in their own best interest?Humans are not rational actors - they often make irrational choicesBehavioral economics opened the door to explaining human irrationality - but neuroscientists were necessary to truly explain WHY these mistakes were happeningIrrational behavior - why it works - and how we can change it Is losing a $10 movie ticket the same as losing $10? In case of most people’s behavior - almost certainly not.  Your memories are not a reliable reflection of reality or your past - despite the fact that you think they are “Don’t believe everything you think"Real Life Inception - Planting Ideas In Your Brain, re-shaping your memoriesHow neuroscientists use magicians and slight of hand to demonstrate our ability to rationalize and explain our decisionsIf you make a small positive step, the brain will start to build pillars of support to underpin that new behaviorHow does neuroplasticity impact our brains ability to change adapt and transform our beliefs and memoriesYour memories are never fixed - they aren’t sitting in a vault, perfect, unchanged. Your memories are changed and modified every time you remember them and pull them back. Ever time you use a memory, you change it a little bit - over time we change memories greatly - we can remember things that never existed and forget what truly happenedThis is how the brain deals with trauma and negative experienceEven when you’re sleeping your brain rehearses, loads, and engages with your memories.Bringing up and talking through negative memories physically reshapes those memories in your brainYou think you are very unique - in terms of your brain - but we are very similar and fall into predictable behavioral patterns and biases We often think our decisions are our own - but in reality they are often influenced by biases, the environment, and many things beyond our control. We are discovering that more and more of our brain is not really under our control. Subtle shifts in your environment change how you respond to things. “Embodied cognition” shows that many things are happening to us, that we don’t have full control over If you have a name for something you can think about it, if you can think about it you can control itCoding things is huge as well (what was the temparture, your mood, hunger level etc when you made decisions)Just by listening to this episode you’re improving your ability to think more effectively and make better decisions! How can we take these lessons of neuroscience and apply them to make ourselves smarter and better decision makers?Planting computer chips into your brain - and teaching your brain how to read and interact with them. Homework - surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do Think about what you wantFind people who have it Spend time with them and in their proximityLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing with Daniel Pink
In this episode we discuss the secrets of perfect timing. Is there really a science to timing the most important things in life? Is it possible that something as simple as time of day could impact the effectiveness of doctors and other medical experts? Can you align your day to be more effective just by changing the time that you do certain activities? We dig into these questions and much more as we explore the truth about the power of time - with Dan Pink.Dan Pink is the New York Times bestselling author of multiple award winning books including his most recent work When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Dan has been named one of Thinkers 50’s top 15 business thinkers in the world. His TED talk on the science of motivation is one of the 10 most-watched TED talks of all time and his work has been featured across the globe.Is timing an art or a science?The science of timing is multi-disciplinary challengeThe power of multi-disciplinary thinking and how thinking between and beyond the boundaries of academic disciplines gives us the more coherent picture of realityWe don’t take WHEN as seriously as WHATScience say about constructing better daily architectures?The three major day parts - Peak / Trough / Recovery How we should think about aligning our day around each of these periodsOur “vigilance” peaks in the morningAlign Analytic, Administrative, Creative We see the same patterns across different domains of lifeAll times of day are not created equal The performance gap is pretty astounding Why you should never go to the doctors office in the afternoon“The Science of Breaks” is proving to be really powerful The science of “breaks” is where the science of sleep was 15 years ago“Breaks are for wimps, breaks are a sign of weakness” - this is totally wrongProfessionals take breaks, amateurs don'tThe three “chronotypes” - the field of chronobiology Morning people - “larksEvening people - “owls"Intermediate people - “third birds"“The Munich Chronotype Questionnaire"Does fasting raise your energy levels throughout the day?Does caffeine positively or negatively our energy flow throughout the day?Take a cup of coffee and then a short nap - will energize you tremendously Our lives are a series of episodes, not a clear linear progressionLife is full of Beginnings, Middles, and Ends - and each affects us differently Middles can bring us up or bring us downMid points are often invisible to usHomework: Make a “break list"A small break is better than no break at allMoving is better than not movingSocial is better than soloBest breaks are FULLY detachedHomework: Track your daily behavior Set an alarm every 45min to an hourHow do I feel right now 1-10How am I worked right now 1-10?Chart those answers over time for a week or twoHomework: Observe your own behavior and conduct small experiments - A/B Test on yourselfLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
What Everyone Gets Wrong About Willpower & Grit - The Science of Long-Term Success with Dr. David DeSteno
In this episode, we discuss why the way we think about grit and willpower is fundamentally wrong. Self-control is one of the most research-validated strategies for long-term success - but the way we think about cultivating is fundamentally wrong. Emotions don’t get in the way of self-control - they are actually the path forward to sustainable and renewable willpower. How do we develop the emotions that underpin grit, self-control, and achievement? We dig into that and much more with our guest Dr. David DeSteno. Dr. David DeSteno is an author and professor of psychology at North-Eastern University where he directs the Social Emotions Group. He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association. His work has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more!What do Marshmallows have to do with success?What do Buddhist monks and hot sauce have to do with the most effective strategies for succeeding over the long term?Lower debt, lower addictive behavior, better SAT scores, and higher overall life success can be predicted by the ability to resist temptation and delay gratificationThere’s NO DOUBT that delayed gratification/resisting temptation is highly correlated with success The real question is - what’s the best way to create self-control. Does willpower actually work? Do our emotions get in the way of self-control?Self-control didn’t evolve so that we could save money for retirement or complete Whole 30. It evolved to help us develop strong relationshipsWhat are the mechanisms that create fairness and good character? Positive emotions. Rather than being a roadblock to self-control, emotions may actually be the best way to develop self-controlRevisiting the marshmallow test for adults - and determining what really works to help adults develop self-control The three emotions of developing self-controlGratitudeCompassionPridePeople who have more of these pro-social emotions (gratitude, compassion, and pride) persevere 40% longer than someone who doesn't. Most successful teams at organizations like Google are predicated on empathy and compassion, not technical skill. These emotions seem to form “pushing vs pulling” - more sustainable and powerful strategy of self-control The pro-social emotions are “the font of virtue” - you don’t have to struggle and remind yourself, they naturally create more self-control53% of Americans feel lonely in their work lives. Loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking. Pro social emotions not only give you “grit” - they give you “grace” - and the ability to invest in others and to help them. Resume virtues vs eulogy virtues - what are they and how do we balance them?Should you be a jerk or should you be nice in order to succeed?Self-control is double sided - it's about both controlling negative impulses (anger, etc) and making positive long-term choices (eat healthily, save money, etc)Meditation does not tamp down your negative responses, it prevents them from arising in the first placeKey strategies for cultivating pro-social emotionsGratitude practicesMeditationPerspective taking exercisesSelf-compassionWhy Pride? Is that really a positive and pro-social emotion?People will work 40% longer when they feel “proud” of the work they are doingEmotionally based strategies for self-control are more robust and sustainableHomework: Choose your emotion and pick a weekly practice to start implementing itGratitudeMeditationCompassionLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (5)

Billy Bogues

The flow genome project quiz is disabled. Booooo.

Jul 31st

Andrés Rubio

This podcast has changed my life in so many ways. Thanks Matt!

Jul 26th

Taylor Velez

Great content and resources!

Jun 30th

Brendan Leighton

Great podcast for those who appreciate science and are looking to improve themselves. I have been able to make some great changes in my life and there are more changes coming. The most significant change so far is my sleep-schedule. I used to sleep from about 12am - 4:30am and was constantly napping throughout the day to catch up on sleep. Using some advice from one of the episodes I was able to make my new schedule 8:30pm-4:30am. I still take some naps as this is new to me but the naps are getting shorter and less frequent. I also follow this schedule on my days off and have found myself to be much more productive. I listen while driving and have started using a voice recorder on my phone (using google assistant) to take notes. I definitely recommend this strategy to anyone who listens while driving. Too much great info that you don't want to forget.

Jun 17th

Robert Trevethan

Whole food plant based, lifestyle not diet. If you eat processed foods, meats, oils, sugar, etc... You're harming yourself. Eat plants and vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, so forth. Look up Dr. Kim Williams

Jun 15th
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