You can increase your willpower muscle; Is that just a crazy statement or what! of course it’s crazy because there isn’t a willpower muscle as such, however you can exercise your willpower therefore increasing the strength of it.
Go on Stand up right now.
Okay, for the purpose of this experiment will you stand up for 5 seconds.
When you were first asked to stand up, your brain was probably thrown by a command from an unknown person who made the request in writing.
When I asked you the third time your brain may have been a little more responsive because of the way I asked you and gave you reasons, and you may have exercised your willpower and actually stood up, against your better wishes.
This is what you willpower is like it needs to be constantly reminded why you’re doing something and it needs to be exercised more often. The more you exercise your willpower the easier it becomes to do the things you should be doing but don’t want to do.
How do you exercise willpower?
Willpower is not tangible, you can’t see it, you can’t touch, smell, taste or hear it but neither can you do this with your memory yet we all know you can increase your memory strength by exercising it. So it is with willpower.
Willpower is required when there is something you really don’t want to do but do it because of the potential benefits or for the avoidance of pain. For example, I am using my willpower to write this blog post, I thought about it for a few hours, carried out some research and then had to lay it bare on the screen and then tweak it. I didn’t really want to do it as I have a love-hate relationship with writing, my body hates it but my mind loves it and just won’t let go until it’s out there.
You exercise your willpower by using it more often but there is a catch. When you use your willpower scientists now believe it depletes your gluclose levels and you start to feel lethargic. (click Here for more) Ever wondered why, when you used to do your studying, and you didn’t really want to, you were so tired after it? that was your willpower literally draining the energy from you due to a drop in blood sugar levels. So the point here is; use your willpower on important tasks because, if untrained, there seems to be an upper limit on how much willpower you can use. However, once you start training your willpower and exercising it you will have a larger reserve and be able to use it more.
5 Exercises to increase your willpower
Force your willpower into action
To force yourself to do something, to exercise your willpower ironically takes willpower to do. Concentrate on one task per day that you know will bring you benefits or avoid pain and just do it, get it out of the way. Doing this also has the benefit of clearing your mind of clutter, the less cluttered your mind feels with niggling thoughts that you need do something, the more you will get done.
This is not sitting cross legged and practicing the mantra ‘OM MANE PADME HUM’. Mindfulness meditation is simply focusing on one thought or one object to the point of no distraction. It can be difficult at first but the more you do it the better you become and the more willpower you will gain. This is scientifically proven and studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls emotional responses and stores your plans and impulses, is strengthened which means you are better equipped to deal with stresses and less prone to impulsive action.
This is when we put of doing something that is mentally pleasurable to us, but we know will be bad for us in the long run. For example lying on the couch and watching TV maybe our idea of chilling out but when we know there is the garage to be cleared, the painting to be done, the garden needs tended, the kids want to go swimming ;exercise your willpower to delay your gratification of watching TV. Do what you need to do and then lye in front of the TV. A lot of alcoholics do this when they are on a controlled drinking plan. Instead of starting to drink at 6pm straight after work, they delay their drinking for an hour or so. This might not seem like much but it can be the first step to becoming alcohol free.
Substitution habits can be particularly useful for helping your willpower grow in strength. basically you are substituting one bad habit with a good habit. An example of this might be instead of eating snacks throughout the day have a large glass of water. Or, instead of watching TV every night substitute it for one night by reading a book. For every bad habit that is substituted the benefits can be doubled, tripled and even quadrupled. Like the example above, if you read a book , the benefits are that your imagination is being stimulated, your reading speed increases, your focus and ability to concentrate is strengthened.
Exercise your physical to control your mental
We all know the benefits of exercise on the body and to some degree the mind. Do you know that it can strengthen your willpower as well. You need blood flowing through your body and brain and need to release carbon dioxide and get new oxygen into the bloodstream. The oxygen flowing around your brain helps to keep it well maintained and honed to keep it in good condition. Exercise naturally helps to stimulate certain hormones in your body which make you feel good, give you confidence and strengthen your willpower. We are not talking going down to the gym every night we are talking taking a walk, or aerobic exercises in the house.
Strengthening your willpower will pay you huge dividends in every area of your life so is it not worthwhile investing some time into strengthening it.
What do you do to exercise your willpower?