Surfing the Urge . . . . . the anatomy of will-power


“mindfulness didn’t just reduce activity; it functionally disconnected the different regions of the brain that make up the “craving network.”

–  from Psychology Today article  – “How Mindfulness Makes the Brain Immune to Temptation”  by Dr. Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University

Many people  are trying to develop healthy habits.  Sometimes we are trying to do less of something (smoking, drinking, eating, procrastinating . . . . )  and perhaps more of something else (studying, sleeping, eating well, fun, social time, exercise . . . .)

This Psychology Today article explores the science of will power.  Stanford lecturer, Kelly Mcgonagal  has a credit course called Willpower 101 and has a new book based on those lectures and experiments.

Embedded in the article is a wonderful MP3 guided meditation that teaches you how to surf the urge when one part of your brain wants immediate gratification and the other wants to pursue  longer term healthier goals.

Listen here:

Here is the synopsis of her points:

  1. Notice, the thoughts, cravings or feelings.
  2. Accept and attend to the inner experience – allow yourself to feel what you are feeling.
  3. Breathe and give your brain and body a chance to pause and plan.
  4. Broaden your attention and look for the action in these next moments that will let you move towards your greater goal.

One way to help yourself is to remember the acronym HALT.  When we are



Lonely or


we need to stop and take care of our physical or emotional needs.  All of these states hi- jack our brain and dissolve our WILL POWER.  Kelly McGonigal encourages us all to become willpower scientists who study ourselves and watch how we can use mindfulness to surge our urges.  She encourages us to get in the practice of watching our cravings  rise and fall and says that  just this witnessing of our inner process allows us to move towards  living our values.


And finally, the inspiring web-site HELLO SUNDAY MORNING!  is the Aussie site that offers tons of support for people wanting to shift their habits with Alcohol.

You can read about the ways people define their life goals and then struggle to make changes.  Anyone can join with their own blogging page and research has shown that just writing about the changes you want to make and then  getting community support can help with sticking to targeted goals.

Here is Kelly McGonigal’s video about willpower:

Warm wishes with surfing the urges and moving forward towards being the person you want to be.


One response to “Surfing the Urge . . . . . the anatomy of will-power

  1. Absolutely wonderful to find such a wealth of support! I just want to express my appreciation for your work and for being part of a college that cares enough about me and the people that I serve that these efforts are supported and given room to flourish.

    Wishing everyone at the college at safe, rejuvenating, and healthy holiday. May we return to campus renewed in our commitment to support a more peace filled world wherever we are through justice and compassion.

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