“It Turns Out Willpower Doesn’t Exist” with Jud Brewer, MD PhD: PYP 337

Jud Brewer is Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, and a second-time guest on Plant Yourself.

When we first talked, two years ago, Jud had just published his groundbreaking book, The Craving Mind, and was in the process of releasing mindfulness apps, Eat Right Now (for dealing with food cravings),  Craving to Quit (for smoking cessation), and Unwinding Anxiety (for, you guessed it, anxiety).

I wanted to catch up with Jud to find out how his academic research and public writing had migrated into the world. What is the state of mindfulness-based health improvement? Does he have data on how his approach compares to current best practices, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for smoking and other addictions.

We ended up chatting about some amazing findings. His patients quit smoking at five times the rate of the next most successful program. A mindfulness-based approach to anxiety reduced burnout in medical doctors by 50%, and improved their and their patients lives in the bargain.

We also got into something that Jud may have been trying to tell me two years ago, but I wasn't able to hear or grasp it: Willpower doesn't seem to exist in the brain or the mind.

That is, there are no structures or mechanism in the brain that we know of that operate based on “doing something hard and unpleasant that you really don't want to do.”

Instead, our brains appear to work on the simple heuristic of reward valuation. If we think we'll get a good enough reward, all costs considered, we'll do it. Whatever “it” may be.

And this has huge implications for how we help ourselves and others change habits and behaviors.

Because it turns out that mindfulness can tap into the power of reward valuation by making us realize – really see and feel and experience in the moment – that our addictive or compulsive behavior of choice (smoking, eating junk food, getting drunk) doesn't actually feel that good after the first couple of puffs/bites/swigs.

So rather than fight against our nature (which is essentially what the Willpower model asks of us), we can “neurohack” ourselves to align our moment by moment actions with our long term values, goals, and priorities.

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.

Links

DrJud.com

The Craving Mind – on amazon

Jud's company, MindSciences

The Eat Right Now App

Jud's TED talk

Support the Podcast

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

Announcements

New Coach Training starts early October. Learn more and apply here: WellStartCoach.com

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.

Go to WellStartHealth.com/program to learn more, and to get notified about the next 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 – Bilberry Elf – Günter Schmid – Marjorie Lewis – Kelly Moulden – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Rachelle Kennedy – Joan Bornstein – Diana Goldman – Stacey Stokes – 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.

2 Responses to ““It Turns Out Willpower Doesn’t Exist” with Jud Brewer, MD PhD: PYP 337”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Lynette Neal says:

    This was a great interview….you and Josh should feel great that the WellStart program is so up to date. I kept thinking about the tools for dealing with cravings and changing my behaviors. Mindfulness is helpful but having the tools of FAST assessment, when the plans, postmortem is a game changer. Its one thing to be aware of triggers, but so helpful to have tools to use when I am aware of less than healthy behavior. Great connection and correlation to all you teach us through the book Sick to Fit and the WellStart on line program. Keep up the good work.

    • Howard says:

      Thanks, Lynette! I did feel largely “vindicated” by the conversation, and also convinced that we can do a better, clearer job of connecting our clients to the JOY and POWER of healthy habits.

      All suggestions welcome 🙂

Leave A Comment...

*