Why are you unable to overcome laziness?

I will reveal it promptly. Pay attention. It’s profound, yet simple, so once you realize it, you will get leverage to turn the situation around.

And here comes the answer; you are unable to overcome your laziness, because…

Your brain is a search engine

We falsely think our brains are computers or hard drives, but it’s not true. Only lately we’ve found the fitting analogy because search engines have existed only for about 20 years.

Yes, your brain has some awesome processing power. Yes, it has some data capacity. But its genius shows in searching for information.

And you are using wrong queries!

Take a look at the search results for your questions in Google:

Of course, Google is not even close to the brilliance of your brain. It’s just a very crass model of your brain.

Thus, when asked the “why I” question, it came up with relatively useful results at the top. Your brain would have returned different answers quite readily:

“Because you’re no good!”
“Because you stink, motherf*!!”
“Because you have grass instead of brain, you piece of sh*t!”
“Oh, of course: because you are a piece of sh*t!”
“Because your parents raised you wrong.”

And so on.

Negativity Bias

However, Google already did one thing right. Pay attention to the number of results when asked for a negative and for a constructive question. It’s 9,590,000 versus 214,000, the ratio about 45:1.

This is another human secret: we have a powerful negativity bias. Negativity draws our attention like a magnet. Your brain loves to dwell on how the world is unfair and how you are a failure.

So, in short, you are “unable,” because you ask yourself why you are unable. Ask and you will find answers. Start asking: “Why I am able to overcome my laziness?” and you will get answers. They may be few and far between, but they will appear. Follow them. Ask more empowering questions, and more good answers will come.

How to Increase Willpower, Self-Discipline, and Productivity

Willpower and self-discipline are like muscles — you need to train them. They will grow only if you use them. If you increase willpower, and especially self-discipline, productivity will follow.

If you can discipline yourself to sit down and work on your project for an hour a day, how can your output decrease? Especially, if you do that with focus and determination, not off-handedly.

Hence, ask yourself the right questions: How can you train willpower? How can you train self-discipline? How can you do both on a daily basis? How can you mingle both trainings?

Then follow your answers. Take cold showers. Do a series of pushups to failure each morning. Don’t eat dessert before tackling your homework.

Everyone has their own, specific and personalized, answers to those questions.

One Last Tip

Whatever your answers will be, I encourage you to start small. When your brain queries for answers it, like Google, goes through the existing “links” in your associative network of memories and experiences. If you’ve never used willpower, your query will draw a blank.

By starting small and winning tiny victories along the way, you provide your brain with reference points. Finish one tiny discipline, then another one. Pick up one piece of trash from the floor. Postpone eating a chocolate bar for 1 minute. The next time, your brain will be able to find more and better answers, because it will have more data points.

I know that great deeds and bold transformation are tempting. What’s so compelling in doing one pushup or writing one sentence?

Lifting weight for an hour! Writing a book! Those visions move your imagination!

However, they cannot be done immediately and/or consistently.

Focus on small daily wins. Compound them. One day, and sooner than you think, they will morph into something much greater.

This article first appeared on www.quora.com.