Thinking about adopting a New Year’s Resolution this year? Consider this instead.
2014 has been a good year for happiness. From the explosion of health-tracking devices to a new focus on the growing field of positive psychology, people in record numbers are paying attention to their happiness – not just financially, but in all domains of life.
Suddenly deciding to “just be happy” is a tall order – especially when it’s unclear how to do it. They never taught happiness skills when I was in school, and there is no well known way for educators or even parents to teach it.
So let’s break it down to the basics: what is happiness really, and how do we get more of it?
Hint: it has a lot more to do with food than you ever thought possible, and not just bacon and chocolate.
Willpower Is a Secret Source of Your Happiness – Or Unhappiness
Happiness is a feeling, and feelings by definition don’t come from rational thinking – which makes it hard to use logic to teach happiness. Still, we know that we feel unhappiness when we expend effort but repeatedly do not get the results we want. In other words, futility breeds unhappiness.
Happiness can come from many sources, and you can learn to feel happy for no reason while doing nothing. One easier-to-learn form of happiness comes from a sense of achievement of almost any goal. Even more happiness (and the sought-after flow state) comes from achieving goals that are in the service of others, according to Rise of Superman author Steven Kotler.
So if successfully working towards goals for yourself or others can help you feel happiness, having energy and willpower can help you to have happiness. If you’re tired and drained of your will, it’s not impossible to be happy, but it’s darn hard. So by doing things that help you to maintain limitless energy and willpower, you make it easier to feel happiness. (Limitless energy alone does not equal happiness; you can use energy to be even more of a jerk if that’s your vibe…)
The Consequences of Depleted Willpower
Take me, for example: as a person who grew up obese and sick, I rarely had the energy I wanted to fully apply my will.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but in my quest to lose weight, I was wasting a huge amount of willpower to resist my food cravings and limit calories. I spent all day every day unsuccessfully trying to suppress cravings, only to cave in each evening. I spent months eating a restricted calorie, low fat diet while exercising 6 days a week for 90 minutes a day – without achieving my weight loss goals.
Obese people use up a ton of willpower – it’s just misdirected.
I would have been far better off spending that energy on relationships, career, service, meditation, or anything else in life with the power to help me feel happy.
If you spend every single minute of every day struggling against your biology, are you going to have much energy or willpower left for anything else? Just imagine: what if you could divert all of this precious energy elsewhere?
The real happiness question becomes: what are you capable of when you’re no longer distracted by food cravings (you probably call them hunger) or energy crashes, when you can direct all your willpower toward your biggest goals in life?
Whether you’re a busy mom, dad, student, or entrepreneur, now is the time to find out.
The New Willpower Equation: Food for Brain and Body
There was a silver lining to my struggle with weight – I started investigating what I could do to feel better and think better, since the weight loss advice I had received from mainstream medicine failed completely, no matter how hard I tried.
That’s part of why I wrote The Bulletproof Diet, published last month: to help people feel, look, and perform their best every day.
It may at first seem like hyperbole, but what my relentless biohacking showed me is that your diet is the foundation behind not only your weight, but also your mental performance, stress levels, risk of disease, physical performance, aging, and even willpower. You are truly what you eat.
There are many pieces to the willpower equation you can use to hack your biology, but getting your food right – in addition to managing your sleep and stress levels – is one of the most critical variables when you’re trying to gain control of your brain and body to get the outcomes you desire.
Learning what it takes to make my biology run so well has freed my energy so much that it feels effortless to use it where it matters most. It makes running a small business that helps people and being a father so much easier! And that does make me feel happy every single day.
Think about it: when your body runs better, you will have more energy, which in turn converts into more willpower. That willpower will help you experience happiness.
How To Jumpstart Your Willpower in Two Weeks
When you upgrade your diet, it’s effortless to lose weight fast, but the real win is feeling fantastic, like you have the power to be your own best version of who you are.
The Bulletproof Diet is based on a roadmap (get it free here) to upgrading your body and your mind from the inside out. For you, becoming Bulletproof might mean having more energy from better sleep, losing weight with minimal exercise, or simply feeling like the lights in your brain have turned on for the first time.
Going Bulletproof won’t automatically make you happy, but it will help you accomplish the happiness goals you define for yourself while losing up to a pound a day and never wasting your energy on feeling deprived or hungry. You’ll find willpower you didn’t even know you had in less than 2 weeks.
Happy New Year – wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2015!