Congratulate yourself.



Everyday you are faced with dozens of tasks and decisions, some that you like and some that you don’t, even when you know they are good or necessary, like going to the gym, stop procrastinating or buying a salad instead of that fantastically greasy burger. Willpower is, as you might have noticed, a very limited resource, and if you’re tired, angry, stressed or simply distracted, pulling yourself by your bootstraps becomes an impossible task and you might end up choosing or doing things that aren’t good for you.

Fortunately, there’s a way to train your brain to enjoy completing those tasks, so it remembers next time you are faced with one and getting to it requires much less effort from your end. This week, every time you finish something that you have completed or done well, especially those things that are difficult but are good for yourself or others, congratulate yourself for having done it, and take at least 15 seconds to relish on that good feeling of achievement.


Dr. Rick Hanson, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, talks on his Being Well podcast about how we can “hack” the motivational circuit of the brain in order to reward ourselves with a dose of dopamine after completing a specific task. Repeating this action-reward process generates a behaviour that can sustain motivation in the long run, instead of having to rely on willpower alone. In order to produce that wonderful dopamine kick, the brain needs at least 15 seconds.


If you are currently low on motivation, it’s a good idea to start small and congratulate yourself big! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • When completing the first task of your endless to-do list for the day. Yay!

  • For not fainting half way through your first HIIT session after an indulging summer.

  • Having done a healthy shopping despite the mermaid-like songs of all the sugary treats you encountered all the way to the cashier.

  • Once finished replying to the screaming emails in your inbox.

  • After practising this booster instead of reading it and thinking it’s enough… Because it’s not enough, that’s the GI Joe fallacy!



Get physical: Go all the way and celebrate your achievement (no matter how small) like you would when your team scores the cup winning goal seconds away from the end of the match.

Happy self-congratulating!

Vero and Enrique
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