Is willpower something that we’re born with and live with our entire lives?
Is willpower something that we’re born with and live with our entire lives? We often think about many of our personality traits and our mental traits as being things we’re born with. But many things, including personality, willpower, intelligence, all things are endowments we are born with a tendency towards, but then we use throughout life and we can build up.
We have old genes that are well adapted to living in some previous environment that are constantly encountering new environments.
Stress at critical periods of development can be bad for the developing brain.
As long as the stress is transient, and then taken away, that seems to be a feature that leads to better stress responses later on.
Stress to a certain degree is unavoidable in the workplace and in a daily life. And so I think a general principle is that even if stress is unavoidable, what we can do is we can change the amount of time that we’re exposed to stress, for instance by making sure the stress is transient.
Sam Wang is an associate professor, Department of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
Wang grew up in California and studied physics at the California Institute of Technology. Seeking his Ph.D. at Stanford University, he switched to neuroscience. He has worked at Duke University as a postdoctoral fellow and aided political leaders as a Congressional Science Fellow. After completing his postdoctoral studies, he spent two years at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., where he learned to use pulsed lasers to study brain signaling before coming to Princeton.
Wang, who has published more than 40 articles on the brain in leading scientific journals. His educational reach extends past the laboratory and classroom in his books, popular articles and efforts to convey neuroscience to interested nonscientists.