As we pursue our goals, it seems some maintain an inner fire that can’t be extinguished while others flare out.
What gives champions their relentless spirit?
I’ve been fascinated recently by the research on willpower and grit.
Unlike motivation, these characteristics have distinct neurological mechanisms –
With willpower relying on prefrontal control centers and grit drawing from deep resolve circuits.
You can think of willpower like a muscle.
The front of your brain is like a muscle that lets you make plans and push through tough tasks.
When you use it a lot, that muscle gets stronger over time so you can resist temptations easier.
Grit is deeper inside your brain where your passion comes from.
It’s like a furnace that keeps a slow, steady fire burning even when things get hard.
With grit, you stick with goals through challenges and don’t give up easily.
Motivation is more like a spark that gets you excited to start something new.
But it can fade quicker than willpower or grit.
Having strong willpower muscles and grit furnaces inside means you can stay determined even when motivation sparks die down.
By taking good care of your brain, we can build up these superpowers and accomplish big things!
Understanding how to support these areas can maximize your strengths.
There are two key areas to this…
And I’ll go over the first one today.
First up: nutrition.
Certain foods strategically fuel our determination.
Let’s break a few of those foods down.
Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Research links them to improved prefrontal cortex function.
Leafy greens – Kale, spinach, swiss chard contain vitamins/minerals like folate that support brain health and help produce dopamine/norepinephrine.
Blueberries – High in antioxidants that protect neurons and support brain cell communication in the prefrontal cortex.
Dark chocolate – Stimulates dopamine production. Flavanols improve blood flow to prefrontal cortex regions involved in self-control.
Turmeric – Curcumin compound is a strong anti-inflammatory. Inflammation contributes to brain fog and weakened willpower.
Eggs – High quality protein, choline and nutrients support focus, memory and production of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and acetylcholine.
Avocados – Monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium and vitamins/minerals support brain and nervous system function crucial for diligence.
The power of the right nutrition never ceases to amaze me.
Understanding how our minds work is so fascinating, yet also empowering.
When we grasp the science behind strengths like willpower and grit…
It unlocks a world of potential through simple tweaks over time.
I hope this glimpse into neuroscience motivates you to strengthen your determination muscles and furnaces through nutrition and other building blocks.
This is just the beginning though –
Next we’ll cover mindfulness habits shown to sculpt resilient brain patterns.
Stay tuned for that later this week.