Willpower – Train it Like a Muscle

Remember my marshmallow story? Here’s some more evidence of the power of resistance and willpower.

Turns out willpower is a form of mental energy that can be depleted but it can also be strengthened like a muscle. In reality our willpower sits in the prefrontal cortex, the part of brain just behind the forehead. Resisting food or forcing yourself to do a task you don’t want to do takes the same brain energy, which is also the same spot where decision-making takes place. Overtaxing the brain, in a hard day in the office for instance, justifies to give in to a temptation like a yummy piece of cake. This is was what my professor at Stanford Baba Shiv proved with his “chocolate or fruit salad” experiment. People with habits of self-control have more willpower. Even more. You can train it. If you do practice restraint and discipline consistently in your life, you’ll have more self-control, will-power and the ability to make decisions not based on feeling depleted or tired.


Photo: Rodin, The Thinker at Stanford