Improve Your Willpower | The psychological science of self-control

In the past few months, I have tried a variety of improvement strategies, including running, positive thinking, and reading more. Although each one was enjoyable to concentrate on, it can be difficult to maintain more than one habit at a given time, and this is partly because it requires a lot of willpower.


Many people believe that they can improve their lives by having more willpower. We would all be able to eat well, exercise regularly, and save money for our retirement.

Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual leader and activist, described willpower by noting:


Strength does not come from physical ability. It is a result of an indomitable will.

Although many people intuitively know what willpower is, they lack the scientific knowledge necessary to comprehend the forces that can undermine it.

How can we use willpower to help us overcome our stubborn nature?

Knowledge is power. In this instance, knowledge is willpower.


What is willpower?

There are many ways to define willpower. However, there are some common synonyms: drive, determination, self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation effortful control.

Willpower is the ability not to succumb to short-term desires and temptations in order to reach long-term goals. It is the main source of long-term satisfaction over instant gratification.

  • Ability to overcome an unwelcome thought, feeling, or impulse
  • Ability to use a “cooler” cognitive system of behavior than a “hot” emotional one
  • Self-regulation by the self.
Willpower: What is it?

Willpower is also defined as the ability to resist temptations to engage in unhealthy and unproductive behaviors. It allows people to make decisions and follow through until they are successful.

Willpower is key to success. Success requires that people work hard no matter how they feel. They must be able to overcome doubt, apathy, and fear.

How does Willpower leads to success?

In ancient times to survive, we relied on our instincts.

Humans wanted to order in things as they developed. People started to set rules. Only by following these rules can someone achieve what they desire and live in modern society. These rules helped us to learn what willpower was and made self-discipline a virtue.

Walter Mischel, Ph.D., a Columbia University psychologist, studied self-control in children 40 years ago using a simple but powerful test. His experiments with the “marshmallow experiment,” as it was known, set the foundation for modern self-control research.

Mischel and his associates presented a child with a plate full of marshmallows. The researcher was told by Mischel that he would need to leave the room in a few moments but that he would still give the child the option of a simple choice. The researcher could return anytime, and the child would have two marshmallows if she waited. If the child can’t wait, she can ring a bell to have the researcher return immediately, but she will only be allowed one marshmallow.

Willpower is a fundamental ability to delay gratification; This applies to children and adults. Good self-control in preschoolers allows them to sacrifice the immediate pleasures of chewy marshmallows in exchange for two marshmallows later. Ex-smokers must quit smoking to enjoy good health and avoid developing lung cancer. So that they can save money for retirement, shoppers should resist the temptation to spend at the mall. So on.

Mischel and his team developed a framework for explaining our ability to delay gratification through marshmallow experiments. To explain why willpower works or fails, he proposed what he called a “hot and cool” system.

Cognitive in nature is the coolest system. It is essentially a thinking system that incorporates knowledge about sensations and feelings as well as actions and goals. For example, it reminds you why the marshmallow shouldn’t be eaten. The cool system is reflective, while the hot system can be impulsive or emotional. The hot system is responsible for quick and reflexive responses to certain triggers, such as popping a marshmallow in your mouth without considering the long-term consequences.

The Physiology Behind Willpower

There are many similarities between stress and willpower. Both are more than feelings in the brain. They affect the entire body. Stress can trigger a body’s fight-or-flight response, even in unlikely circumstances. Different chemicals are released by the brain to ask the body to do certain actions and the same applies to willpower.

The body responds with self-control by displaying a pause and plan response when it is time. The body can then relax and become calmer. The brain’s prefrontal cortex receives more energy, which helps to analyze and control temptations and cravings. This helps you to understand your actions and feels motivated to do the right things. This is how willpower works.

Is Willpower a Limited Resource?

Experts believe that we all have a limited amount of willpower. It decreases as we use it more, much like the gas in our cars. You can drive as long as you have enough gas. Your car will stop if it runs out of gas; this is known as “ego depletion.”

Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist, was the first to show the ego depletion effect through his famous “cookies & radishes” experiment. He asked students to try fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Then he asked others to eat radishes and resist the temptation to eat the cookies. Then, they were given an impossible puzzle. What did they discover?

Students who had eaten the cookies worked on the puzzles for an average of 19 minutes. The average time it took for students who resisted the temptation was 8 minutes. Baumeister believed that students who were able to resist temptation had insufficient energy to take on yet another willpower challenge.

However, some people’s willpower is still weak. They are always lacking willpower. These are some of the reasons:

How to succeed with limited Willpower

Once you understand that willpower is limited, you can follow a system to achieve your goals. Systems should be first and willpower last. You need to allow your willpower to work with a personal success program to make it useful.

What is the system I am referring to? This system creates the right environment and mental conditions to ensure your success. This system will make it easy to have the willpower you need to succeed. To be clear, even if you lose your willpower, the system will still help you succeed.

How to Increase Willpower

Many of us struggle with self-control and willpower, but most people believe these skills can be improved and learned.

These are the key steps to creating your own success system.

Create an Environment that is Conducive to Success

For a moment, think about willpower. It doesn’t necessarily focus on changing the environment. Instead, it focuses on conquering the environment. It is no surprise that people succumb to environmental influences even when they have strong willpower.

We are all influenced by the world around us. These influences could come from the news we read, stories told to us by our friends or even our home.

It is important to create an environment that supports your efforts, not hinders them. If you are trying to quit snacking, you should give your snacks away to others. Also, make sure that you don’t have any snacks at home or at work.

You should use your environment to support your goals. find or create that environment

Work It Like a Muscle

You can think of willpower as a muscle. Willpower, like any other muscle can be strengthened and built with effort and time. Your willpower could be made less susceptible to depletion by exercising it.

Baumeister recommends creating challenging but simple tasks that take effort. To open doors, you can use your left hand to do the job instead of your right. You could also turn the light off when you are done with a room. These simple tasks can be done for several weeks to improve your self-control.

Training your willpower can work wonders. 

Find out What Makes You Happy

Knowing what makes you happy will help you discover what motivates you, and this is crucial.

Look around at other people or look back into your past to see that people’s willpower is affected by failures or encountering negative events. This shows that willpower can be affected by external factors.

It is essential to know what makes you happy; This will help you stay motivated and keep going even when things get tough. You can reward yourself with a movie, or simply enjoy the inner joy you feel when you walk on the path that makes you happy, motivated, and successful.


Meditation is one of many powerful methods to increase your willpower. Regular mindful meditation has been shown to improve self-control and focus, even when you aren’t meditating.

Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time. It can take only five minutes to meditate either in the mornings or during lunch breaks.

Your brain will resist temptations if you are willing to practice resisting them.

Give Your Brain Food

Skipping meals is bad for your brain, and even more so if you are trying to improve your willpower. Your brain is your decision-making muscle. It is affected by how well you eat. Regular meals are important. 

Avoid Temptations

Mischel’s marshmallow classic test showed that children who were distracted by the treats were more likely to resist temptation than those who weren’t. Some kids shut their eyes while others looked away. However, the kids who couldn’t look away from the treat were more likely to succumb.

This “out of sight and out of mind” strategy can be used when you are faced with temptations to eat, drink or spend. You can also physically remove temptation from your environment or temporarily remove yourself from temptation.

Increasing Willpower

Only One Change at a Time

Motivation and willpower can be increased, but it takes time and patience (much like growing muscle mass). It is a limited amount that we have to work with each day. We cannot change everything at once, and we are not able to drastically change our lives during stressful times. We should take small steps and work towards a single long-term goal if we want to see significant change.

Get Enough Sleep

Bad sleeping habits (sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep) can cause you to feel tired both mentally and physically. This can affect your ability to resist temptation. A review of various studies has shown that people who are sleep deprived are more likely than others to succumb to impulses, lose focus and make poor decisions.

Every person has different sleep requirements. According to the National Sleep Foundation, however, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night to be able to function at their best.

Develop Small but Powerful Habits

Research shows that having good habits can help increase our willpower. Even something as simple as making our beds can have a significant positive impact on our willpower because these small habits help us to develop self-discipline, self-control and spread to other areas of our lives.

Enjoy Frequent Breaks

It’s impossible to maintain perfect self-control at all times. If we don’t get enough rest and breaks, we can run out of willpower and make poor decisions.

You can take a break from time to time, have a healthy snack, then go back to work on your goals and tasks; this will help you to feel more energized and be able to do better work.

Create a Manageable To-Do List

Everybody has a to-do list; whether it’s on paper or not, We may not realize it. This ubiquitous productivity tool could make us more stressed and less willful, even though we may not know it.

Our subconscious will nag us to keep track of it and make endless lists. We end up worrying more than we are acting. This can lead to a negative mood and make it difficult for us to resist temptation.

Select a Reward in Advance

If we can determine the reward ahead of time for a given change, our motivation to carry it out will increase.

When learning how to increase willpower, our brains are hardwired to seek out positive rewards. It can be as simple as a piece of cake or as large as a vacation. To get the most out of your willpower, match the reward to the task.

Remember Your “Why”

What’s the point of learning to change our behavior and gain willpower? What are we trying to achieve? And what can we lose if our bad habits continue to rule our lives?

We can increase our willpower by constantly reminding ourselves of the answers to these questions.

Anticipate Roadblocks

Before we set out on a path to achieving a new goal, it is important to consider any obstacles that might arise. Unfortunately, positive pursuits are not without obstacles.

We can anticipate problems in advance and have more willpower to handle them when they do occur.

Read More: Control Your Mind ~ Control Your Life

Read More: Why Consistency is An Important Habit

Read More: Understanding Agreeableness and Its Impact on Your Behaviour

Quotes On Willpower

  • To have the willpower to make consistent efforts to increase productivity, you need to eliminate or limit counterproductive behaviors and adopt new productive habits. Mark Snyder
  • You can do anything with some self-motivation and the will to make changes. You are in control of your own destiny.
Willpower: Quotes
  • Willpower is key to success. Success requires that people work hard no matter how they feel. They must be able to overcome doubt, apathy, and fear. Dan Millman
  • Great talent is not possible without great willpower.
  • All of us have the ability to think. So what are we missing? You can change anything if you have the willpower. Dalai Lama
  • There is a way if there is a will, maybe tomorrow, if it isn’t already. Michele Jennae
  • It’s up to you to exercise self-control and willpower to help guide yourself. Ezioha Collins


Willpower isn’t the only thing that matters. This is contrary to what we have been taught. Although it is a key component to success.

As I have already mentioned, having a plan and a goal is as important as willpower, if not more, to achieve success. Now that you know the truth about willpower and success, you can take the steps ReelNat has suggested and achieve more than you ever imagined.

WILLPOWER – Best Motivational Video Speeches Compilation
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