Willpower is the motivation to exercise will, ie to chose consciously. Sometimes called determination, drive, self-discipline, it is the putting off of short term satisfaction for long term gain. Many of us think that we could improve our lives if only we had more of that mysterious thing called willpower. With more self-control we would all eat right, exercise regularly, avoid drugs and alcohol, save for retirement, stop procrastinating, and achieve our goals.1
With the right practice, willpower can be strengthened just like any other muscle in the body. However it requires concerted amounts of effort, and daily commitment. Here are the top 5 proven habits that will give you incredible willpower.
Proven to be the fastest way to improve willpower, by training the brain to be more focused. Meditation being simply the practice of bringing your thoughts to the present moment, rather than projected into the future or reminiscing about the past.2
To get started meditating read our blog on mindfulness
2. EAT A LOW GLYCEMIC DIET
Maintaining a healthy stable blood glucose level, without it spiking or falling is really important to generating willpower, as the brain uses primarily glucose for all processes and letting your blood levels get to low leads to brain fog, forgetfulness and bad choices, or too high which can lead to irritability, lack of concentration and hyperactivity. For more information on Glycemic Index go to http://www.glycemicindex.com/ 3.
3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
As most of us can attest being tired means low willpower! As mentioned in a previous post we know that lack of sleep also impairs your glucose metabolism, causing cravings for sweat things, not the best use of your remaining willpower.
Exercise has been shown to not only improve our willpower but has many other benefits too, in a study done by the Macquarie University of Sydney of 24 college students3, showed not only an ability to resist temptations and persevere on tasks but also that they
- Procrastinated less
- Felt more in control of their emotions
- Reduced smoking, alcohol and caffeine intake
- Saved more money
- Ate less junk food
- Began eating a healthier diet
- Watched less TV
- Spent more time studying
- Splurged on impulse purchases less
- Were more likely to be on time to appointments
5. BE INSPIRED DAILY
Surround yourself with things or people that inspire you, find inspiration in the world around you, capture the enchantment that nature can offer if you look. Inspiration or as Wayne Dyer put it to be “in spirit”. When we are in spirit we are uplifted and empowered. Below is a video of a flock of starlings, magic!
Doing each of these everyday will help you develop a stronger will, but even just doing one daily will be of benefit. So start with one, the one that you can commit to making a fixed part of your life.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
1. American Psychological Association. What You Need to Know about Willpower: The psychology science of self control. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower.aspx
2.Oman, D., Shapiro, S., Thoresen, C., Plante, T., & Flinders, T. (2008). Meditation Lowers Stress And Supports Forgiveness Among College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of American College Health, 569-578.
3. Gailliot, M., Baumeister, R., DeWall, C., Maner, J., Plant, E., Tice, D., … Schmeichel, B. (2007). Self-control Relies On Glucose As A Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than A Metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 325-336.
4. Oaten, M. & Cheng, K. (2006) Longitudinal Gains in Self-regulation from Regular Physical Exercise. British Journal of Health Psychology 11.4: 717-33.