Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will help you become your ideal self. The tips are very practical. We get to learn a lot about how our brain functions and how knowing that can help us become better. This course is must and more fruitful and interesting than any self-help books I've read so far. Thankyou very much Great Courses!!
Date published: 2020-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Lectures The sessions are short, the context is easy to understand and the instructor is entertaining.
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Every adult in the U.S. should take this course Having just completed the course, and read the first 20 or so reviews, I realize I am gilding the lily here, but this is a truly stupendous course. I absolutely agree with every review I read, in the following: tremendous content, wonderfully well organized, and Peter's speaking is superlative, so incredibly easy to listen to. He brings in the results--but not just not results but enough details about the experiments to make them really clear--of hundreds of relevant studies--generally psychological experiments--to make hundreds of helpful observations and conclusions about how our brains--and our bodies--really work, a great deal of which is counter-intuitive or otherwise just surprising. He illuminates how much of our behavior is influenced or controlled by factors of which we are not conscious. He details many instances in which our bodies influence our brains--such as how forcing a smile will almost always decrease a negative emotional state and bring one closer to a positive one, or how one holds one's body influences one's sense of confidence and mastery. His discussion of two topics has revolutionized my life over the last 6 days. I have been an inveterate procrastinator since at least high school (I'm now 73), and also had one persistent bad habit (of picking at my lip with my right hand that I have tried to extinguish for at least the last 60 years). Tips on his lecture on procrastination have led me to get done in the last 6 days at least 75 tasks many of which have been pending for me to attend to for months--and I further realized how the weight of knowing I had all these undone tasks hanging over me has prevented me from beginning several really important, major and long-term projects that I have been postponing without knowing why I could not force myself to get down even start them. I am still polishing off the very last of these overhanging tasks and am 100% confident I will dive into these two long-postponed tasks within the next day or two. On the habit front, a fantastic tip--just record each time I do the unwanted action--led me to not pick my lip a single time starting the first day I started following the tip--and 6 days later I haven't picked it once. Amazing (to me)! And these are just two of literally hundreds of tips and tricks that can help people with all sorts of life situations, from handling depression to improving one's love relations--how's this for a tip, backed up by convincing research--if one wants to stay married or in a long-term relationship, do not, and I mean never, roll one's eyes in an argument or fight--it shows the kind of disrespect that is toxic and often fatal--studies show that divorce is almost certain within a few years in any relationship in which one or both partners roll their eyes when fighting. I could go on and on, but there are just so many tips that ultimately can lead most people to lead happier, less stressful, more intentional, lives, that I simply cannot recommend this course more strongly. This country would be a friendlier, less divided, and happier country if everyone in it would take this course and take it to heart.
Date published: 2020-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done! Solid, scientific research based material presented in a very accessible way.
Date published: 2020-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great fun and great information Great information and ideas. Fun to try new stuff. Very interesting.
Date published: 2020-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative, convenient and easy to listen. I have listened to these courses a few times. It is convenient for me to listen while I am gardening. I apply what I can to my personal life, one little change at a time. Learning and understanding how the brain can be outsmarted to bring about changes is powerful.
Date published: 2020-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome course from start to end! This was an excellent class! Packed with real take-aways that can be used in daily life. The professor was very engaging and made it enjoyable. The use of science throughout gave credibility to all of the great strategies. Great Course all around!
Date published: 2020-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding - Entertaining and useful! The presenter is top shelf; complex info is pared down to what is important to his audience, and he leaves you with practical and useful tips on how to make this new information work for you. Excellent overall!
Date published: 2020-07-06
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Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You
Course Trailer
Take Control of Your Automatic Brain
1: Take Control of Your Automatic Brain

Recent decades have seen an explosion of understanding about our brains, and with this new information come some surprising and counterintuitive conclusions about our behavior and decision-making processes. In this first lecture, examine the disconnect between our actions and our consciousness of those actions. Are we as in control of ourselves as we like to think?...

34 min
Beat Procrastination by Doing Nothing
2: Beat Procrastination by Doing Nothing

From time to time, procrastination affects us all. Here, you'll discover several evidence-based strategies for reducing procrastination by attacking it at its source. Three tips show you how to be more efficient and effective. Along the way, you'll study the neurochemistry of why we procrastinate-and what makes it so tempting....

30 min
Train Yourself like a Dog
3: Train Yourself like a Dog

The unconscious plays a strong role in developing bad habits. To help you examine and modify your behaviors, Professor Vishton gives you several tips, ranging from the very simple (keep a notebook of your activities) to the complex (employ behavioral psychology). Which of your habits would you most like to change?...

32 min
Clean Your Kitchen, Improve Your Diet
4: Clean Your Kitchen, Improve Your Diet

What can neuroscience tell us about healthy eating? Can scientific insights help you curb unhealthy snacking? In this first of two lectures on food, see how simple changes such as cleaning your kitchen and changing your food's packaging may have a measurable effect on unhealthy eating habits....

29 min
Eat Slow, Eat Small, Eat Smart
5: Eat Slow, Eat Small, Eat Smart

To be healthy, you must eat healthy. This second lecture on food considers the hormones that drive hunger cues and how your body responds to different foods. Find out why high fructose corn syrup is bad for you-and why exercise might not help you lose much weight....

28 min
The Myth of Multitasking
6: The Myth of Multitasking

Our modern world seems to demand multitasking. We constantly check email, make phone calls, and live on the go. But recent research clearly shows that we are more efficient and creative if we can focus on one task at a time-a strategy known as "monotasking." Consider how the brain works when confronted with multiple tasks....

31 min
Future You and Better Decisions
7: Future You and Better Decisions

Enter the fray of a negotiation between the "present you" and the "future you." Do you take $10 today, or wait for $15 next week? While the answer may seem logically clear, we have a powerful, built-in desire for instant gratification. Learn what you can do today to make decisions you will approve of tomorrow....

32 min
How to Become an Expert on Anything
8: How to Become an Expert on Anything

You might think talent is ingrained, and that either you have it or you don't. But cognitive research reveals that practice is just as-if not more-important for success in a given task. Discover strategies for how to practice any skill, and how to stick with it until you become an expert....

31 min
Tune Up Your Brain with Meditation
9: Tune Up Your Brain with Meditation

We all have a conception of what meditation is-but what actually happens inside your brain? Could it be that meditation built into our evolutionary makeup? And how can regular practice benefit us? Reflect on the answers to these questions and more in this eye-opening lecture....

31 min
Take the Sleep Challenge
10: Take the Sleep Challenge

Explore the mysterious realm of sleep. While your body may shut down, your brain performs important, fascinating work to help you be more focused, creative, and productive in your waking life. Here, you'll discover why eight hours of sleep is so crucial. Then you'll consider the role of dreams....

30 min
Boost Insights and Creativity
11: Boost Insights and Creativity

Have you ever wished you could be more creative? From listening to the right music to getting into a creative frame of mind, Professor Vishton offers several practical, easy-to-implement strategies for finding more creative solutions, solving puzzles, and enhancing your mental prowess....

32 min
Enhance Performance with Imagery
12: Enhance Performance with Imagery

Imagine you could lift more weights or better perform an athletic task without once putting on your sweats or driving to the gym. It turns out that mental training has genuine physical effects, all because the human imagination is such a powerful tool. Learn how to use imagery and the imagination to boost your performance....

31 min
Overcome Your Aging Brain
13: Overcome Your Aging Brain

There's no doubt that neurons die off and mental decline occurs, but the good news is that we can stave off these ill effects through exercise, new experiences, and more. In this lecture, delve into the aging brain to see what happens as we get older, and what you can do to mitigate the force of time....

31 min
Grow Your Brain Out of Depression
14: Grow Your Brain Out of Depression

Even if we never experience a major depression in our lives, mild depression is like the "common cold" of mental illness. Yet most people fail to seek help, instead trying to power through these unfortunate down periods. Here, Professor Vishton offers several ways to fight these mild depressions....

33 min
Hack Your Brain to Unlearn Fear
15: Hack Your Brain to Unlearn Fear

From flying to public speaking, we all have a number of arguably irrational phobias. Where do these fears come from? How do we learn them? And most importantly, how do we overcome them? Go on a step by step journey through the world of fear, and learn what you can do to minimize common phobias....

33 min
Use Your Body to Alter Your Mind
16: Use Your Body to Alter Your Mind

Jog your brain into activity-literally. In this fascinating lecture on the relationship between the body and the mind, you'll learn why forcing yourself to smile has genuine mental benefits, see how physical activity can aid your problem-solving skills, and more. Test yourself at the end to see these theories in action....

33 min
Suppress-Don't Repress-Anger
17: Suppress-Don't Repress-Anger

Here, Professor Vishton considers the mechanisms behind anger, which leads to an explanation of how humans mirror each other's behaviors and emotions. Understanding the roots of our anger then provides a way to diffuse tense situations and gain better control of our emotional landscapes....

31 min
How Little Things Cause Big Persuasion
18: How Little Things Cause Big Persuasion

Shift your attention from outsmarting yourself to the ways people try to outsmart you. This first of a two-lecture unit on persuasion examines how the "reciprocity effect," apparent expertise, and scarcity are all subtle methods of persuasion. Uncovering these techniques will make you a savvier consumer, negotiator, and more....

31 min
How Framing Changes Decisions
19: How Framing Changes Decisions

Continue your study of persuasion with a look at two common techniques in sales: "getting your foot in the door" with a small request and asking for a big, "door in the face" kind of favor-using either as a prelude to what you really want. Whether you are in the business of persuasion or simply want to be better informed, this lecture is invaluable....

31 min
How Language Changes Your Brain
20: How Language Changes Your Brain

Humans have a language instinct unlike any other living creature. Explore the exciting world of linguistics and the brain, discovering how language influences our behaviors-even when we are not conscious of it. What you'll learn is that for your physical health and mental well-being, words most certainly matter....

32 min
How Your Brain Falls in Love
21: How Your Brain Falls in Love

Poets have been ruminating about love for ages, but what do the neuroscientists have to say? Here, consider why people fall in love, and what role simple exposure, facial symmetry, and eyes play in romantic attraction. Review what happens inside the brain when you fall in love....

31 min
The Neuroscience of Lasting Love
22: The Neuroscience of Lasting Love

Look beyond the superficial qualities of attraction and delve into love as a long-term emotional commitment. Examine the three main "love systems" in the brain and what we can learn from them. This lecture shows us why staying in love can be a bigger challenge than falling in love....

33 min
How Your Brain Creates Happiness
23: How Your Brain Creates Happiness

We all want to be happy, but achieving this state of being is the million-dollar question. In this first lecture on happiness, find out precisely why money truly doesn't buy happiness. You'll investigate the effects on your brain of earning a higher salary or winning the lottery, and then reflect on the way time is ultimately more valuable for happiness....

33 min
Happy Brains Are Smart Brains
24: Happy Brains Are Smart Brains

Round out your course with some helpful tips for living a happy, fulfilled life. From exercising in green, natural surroundings to putting more value on your time, happiness is most definitely achievable-and it can even become a habit. All it takes is a little work to outsmart yourself....

35 min
Peter M. Vishton

The human mind remains one of the most mysterious and fascinating frontiers of modern science. Exploring that frontier yields useful knowledge as well as insights about ourselves.


Cornell University


The College of William & Mary

About Peter M. Vishton

Dr. Peter M. Vishton is Associate Professor of Psychology at The College of William & Mary. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty of William & Mary, he taught at Northwestern University and served as the program director for developmental and learning sciences at the National Science Foundation. A consulting editor for the journal Child Development, Professor Vishton has published articles in many of the top journals in the field of psychology. Among these are Psychological Science, Science, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He is also the creator of the DVD What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development. In addition to teaching, Professor Vishton devotes much of his career to researching the perception and action control of both infants and adults. His studies-funded by prestigious institutions, including the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the National Science Foundation-focus on cognitive, perceptual, and motor development; visually guided action; visual perception; computational vision and motor control; and human-computer interface. Professor Vishton has presented his findings at numerous conferences and invited talks throughout the United States and Europe.

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