We are all looking for ways to boost our willpower. Having more self-discipline is a key factor in success at work and a satisfying personal life as well. It helps us to get more done.
Research has shown that willpower is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. But just like a muscle, it can become fatigued as well, and you need to rest to rejuvenate it. So, practice is one way to strengthen it. There are others. Science has discovered some other things that have an influence on willpower, some that may come as a surprise. Here are a few.
Research has shown that meditating can help in a number of different areas. It can help reduce stress, help with focus and concentration, improve mood, even help the brain produce new neurons. Research has shown that it can help enhance willpower as well.
It doesn’t take that long to do – you can start with as little as 10 minutes a day. You simply sit motionless, clear your mind of all thoughts and focus on your breathing. The tricky part is clearing your mind, because until you get used to it, you will have to occasionally push stray thoughts out of your mind.
2. Physical movements.
Studies have also shown that your physical movements can have an effect on your willpower, things like clenching your fists, squeezing your eyes shut or clenching your jaw.
Willpower represents the rational side of our minds, while temptation represents the more emotional side. We need the rational side of our natures to control the emotional side, and reminders help us to do this. So, for example posting a note on the refrigerator reminding us to have no more than one piece of pie can help us to exercise willpower.
Science has led the way here again, showing that the more glucose we have in our bloodstream, which fuels our cells, the more willpower we can muster. Protein is one of the best sources of glucose that is released over a longer period of time. Or, for a quick burst of glucose, a candy bar will do the trick.
5. Attitudes – going easy on yourself and commitment
Experiments have also shown that when we feel regret about our actions, it becomes more difficult to exercise willpower. So, for example, if you have spent the past two hours watching TV or playing video games instead of working, you feel regret about the whole thing, get depressed and lethargic, and so end up watching even more TV. You need to not be so hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Forgive yourself for your failure and move on.
Commitment means getting serious about improving your willpower and having a plan to do it. It means thinking about specific things you can do each day to help improve your willpower, and setting up long-term goals for willpower improvement.
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