Harnessing Positive Emotions to Defeat Bad Habits with David DeSteno: PYP 292

Why do 92% of New Years' Resolutions fail, one year on? Why has the current cultural obsession with grit and willpower failed to move the needle on our behaviors? And why do long-time Buddhist monks demonstrate more self-control than the rest of us?

Today's guest, David DeSteno, PhD, has been studying these and related issues for a long time. David is a psychology superstar, and I was amazed when he agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to chat. He's a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Group. From his official bio:

“David is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, for which he served as editor-in-chief of the journal Emotion. His work has been repeatedly funded by the National Science Foundation and has been regularly featured in the media, including The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's Radiolab and Talk of the Nation, and USA Today.”

I contacted David after reading a brilliant opinion piece of his in The New York Times last December. In it, he argued that we're using weak and toxic strategies in our quest to delay gratification of immediate desires to achieve long-term goals.

Grit, willpower, and cognitive control are simply the wrong tools for the job. Instead, he argues, and demonstrates through clever and compelling studies, long-term thinking in humans is tied to our social intelligence: we sacrifice today (helping a friend move, donating to a charity, etc.) to demonstrate to our social group that we are trustworthy, and worthy of their investment in return.

So the part of our brain that sacrifices now for future reward is fueled cleanly and efficiently by pro-social emotions. David has identified three of them: gratitude, pride, and compassion.

In this fascinating conversation, we cover the science, the implications, and the practice of being our best selves through creating inner environments conducive to these powerful pro-social emotions. We discussed:

  • the emotions that facilitate sacrifice
  • pride as a gauge of our service to others
  • the primary function of “authentic” pride
  • the benefits and dangers of team sports
  • willpower causes collateral damage
  • living with three ethical vegans and changing his relationship to sausage
  • why meditation works to help us deploy self-control (and it's probably not what you think – it's not what I thought 😉
  • we don't overcome desire, but change the nature of our desire
  • the value of perspective taking
  • Adam Grant's research on increasing workplace productivity by showing gratitude and expressing pride
  • Hal Hirshfeld's future self interventions (here's the Plant Yourself Podcast episode with Hal)
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back

Links

David's website: DavidDeSteno.com

David's book on amazon: Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride

Article: Pride can build leadership and social capital

David on Twitter

Support the Podcast

Like what you hear? You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by becoming a patron. Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

Announcements

Become a WellStart Coach! Email me at hj@plantyourself.com for details.

Ready to embark on your Big Change journey?

Are you tired of knowing what to do, and still not doing it consistently? The WellStart Health Big Change Program, led by Josh LaJaunie and myself, will help you take the steps to finally live according to your knowledge and values.

Join the Plant Yourself mailing list (top right of this page) to learn more, and to get notified about the next Bobsled Run of the program.

Ask your questions or share your feedback

Comment on the show notes for this episode (below)

Connect with me

Subscribe, rate, and review in iTunes
Join the Plant Yourself Facebook Page

Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons
– Kim Harrison
– Lynn McLellan
– Anthony Dissen
– Brittany Porter
– Dominic Marro
– Barbara Whitney
– Tammy Black
– Amy Good
– Amanda Hatherly
– Mary Jane Wheeler
– Ellen Kennelly
– Melissa Cobb
– Rachel Behrens
– Christine Nielsen
– Tina Scharf
– Tina Ahern
– Jen Vilkinofsky
– David Byczek
– Michele X
– Elspeth Feldman
– Viktoriya Dolomanova
– Leah Stolar
– Allan Kristensen
– Colleen Peck
– Michele Landry
– Jozina
– Julianne Rowland
– Stu Dolnick
– Sara Durkacs
– Kelly Cameron
– Wayne Pedersen
– Leanne Peterson
– Janet Selby
– Claire Adams
– Tom Fronczak
– Jeannette Benham
– Gila Lacerte
– David Donohue
– Blair Seibert
– Doron Avizov
– Gio and Carolyn Argentati
– Jodi Friesner
– RuthAnn Funderburk
– Mischa Rosen
– Michael Worobiec
– Alicia Lemus
– Val Linnemann
– Nick Harper
– Stephanie Halmes
– Bandana Chawla
– Martha Bergner
– Nikole Ramsay
– Susan Ahmad
– Molly Levine
– The Inscrutable Harry R
– Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan
– Craig Covic
– Adam Scharf
– Karen Bury
– Heather Morgan
– Ashley Corcoran
– Kelly Michiya
– DeAnne Norton
– Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon
– Sabine Kurtzhals
– Nigel Davies
– Marian Blum
– Teresa Kopel
– Shell Routledge
– Julian Watkins
– Brid O'Connell
– Brian Sheridan
– Shannon Herschman
– Cate Rolls
– Linda Ayotte
– Julie Lang
– Holm Hedegaard
– Isa Tousignant
– Connie Haneline
– Erin Greer
– Alicia Davis
– AvIvA Lael
– Heather O'Connor
– Carollynne Jensen
– Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health
– Karen Smith
– Scott Mirani
– Karen and Joe Crabtree
– Tanya Lewis
– Kirby Burton
– Theresa Carrell
– Kevin Macaulay
– Elizabeth Rothschild
– Kelly Baker Miracle
– Ann Jesse
– Sheryl Dwyer
– Jenny Hazelton
– Valerie Pelletier
– Peter W Evans
– Colleen Harrison
– Justine Divett
– Joshua Sommermeyer
– Dennis Bird
– Darby Kelly
– Lori Fanney
– Linnea Lundquist
– Valarie Hummel
– Deb Coscia
– Emily Iaconelli
– Levi Wallach
– Rosamonde McAtee
– Dan Pokorney
– Stephen Leinin
– Patty DeMartino
– Mike and Donna Kartz
– Deanne Bishop
for your generous support of the podcast.

Disclosure

This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive amazon gift certificates from your actions on such links.

One Response to “Harnessing Positive Emotions to Defeat Bad Habits with David DeSteno: PYP 292”

Read below or add a comment...

Leave A Comment...

*