One of the most interesting and unknown facts about willpower is that it’s much like a muscle in that it can be exercised and increased.
The prefontal cortex is the part of the brain that manages influence over willpower and the available willpower you posses is limited.
In testing this hypothesis, participants were asked to solve a complex puzzle after digesting different sources of food. Those who consumed tastier treats were willing to spend a far greater time trying to solve the puzzle than those who consumed food they didn’t enjoy. Researchers concluded that those who had to utilize willpower to eat foods they didn’t enjoy expended their finite reserves of willpower and that led to giving up on the puzzle much earlier.
How scientific was this study? Unfortunately, it’s not indicated and frankly, who’s to say that these people weren’t just a little grouchier after being told they had to eat celery sticks and solve a puzzle compared to the group snacking on chocolate zingers?
Let’s give our researching friends some credit though and assume they’re right in their summation that our willpower is limited. How then, do we increase willpower?
The key, they say, is to continually push through challenging situations but such situations do not have to be extremely difficult in nature.
You can simply use your non-dominant hand to perform your everyday tasks over a period of a few weeks. By doing things like brushing your teeth, wiping your… orifices, or using your other hand to write with a pen, you’ll “upgrade” your limited supply of willpower and it will be available for other tasks.
So if you’re having trouble dieting or trying to stop smoking, you might just need to switch hands when using the TV remote for the next month.
If that sounds like too much work, you might need more willpower. Ironic, ain’t it?