What's up with willpower and why don't I have it? (Thinkstock)
What's up with willpower and why don't I have it?
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You asked us, what's up with willpower and why don't I have it?

I know it doesn't always feel like it, but we all actually have will power. Like a muscle though, it can be super strong or puny and weak, so here are a couple things that can boost or zap your sense of self-control.

After a good night's sleep, we're ready to fend off all kinds of temptations, but sometimes we log too few hours and it gets harder and harder to just say no.

Food is another key, and our brains need lots of quality calories to do what they do, including avoiding destructive urges.

Even if you're well rested and fed, as the day wears on and you've resisted temptation after temptation, that willpower muscle starts to fatigue and then suddenly, it's harder to put down that brownie and get your butt to the gym.

But never fear, science is here and it's found a few ways to strengthen that willpower muscle.

Physical exercise allows us to handle stress better and it actually leads to changes in our brain, so go run a few laps and then meditate.

Yes, meditation can actually alter our brain in ways that improve self-control, plus it helps us be more self-aware, so we're less likely to do bad things out of habit.

At the very least, do something that makes you laugh because a good mood can help overpower a weak will.

OK, good luck fighting the good fight and Namaste.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: Where is the muscle that provides willpower?

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COMMENTS (13)
  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    5/14/2015 - 10:49 a.m.

    Eating well and getting enough sleep seems like common sense to feeling better and being more motivated to do things, but those two things are actually really hard to accomplish. With everything people are asked to do when it comes to their job, education, or family life, eating well and getting sleep seems to fall behind other priorities.

  • jasmined-Koc
    5/16/2015 - 10:51 a.m.

    I think this article will help a lot of people overcome there bad habits and bad decisions as long as they decide to strengthen their willpower through exercise and meditation.

  • amandam-Koc
    5/16/2015 - 10:11 p.m.

    The muscle is in our heads and is known as brain. It have all the control of our body and needs more energy than any other muscle because of this we need more slip, more food and we also need to exercise it, thinking, and relax it doing some fiscal exercise, and have a good time laughing to liberate stress.

  • LBQuran-Cas
    5/16/2015 - 11:51 p.m.

    When it comes to food and willpower, I have none. It's just I don't even think about it. I just eat and eat. Also when it comes to sleeping, I'll say I'll turn my phone off and go to sleep but It just never works. I am trying to have better will power day by day.

  • cristinal-Koc
    5/17/2015 - 03:07 p.m.

    I feel like a lot of teens need to practice having more will power and changing their behaviors. A lot of people I know are growing up and becoming more immature about life and how to treat others. A friend I met when he was 18 was a nice guy and would hardely ever get upset, knows how to take jokes and never talk back. Now he's 20 and hes become extremely immature. Doesn't have a filter in his head and says whatever he wants without thinking, thinks he has all the power in the world, and just in general became ignorant. I think having will power would help him grow up mentally and grow out of the stage of being young and wanting to have fun by not taking life seriously.

  • juanc-Koc
    5/17/2015 - 04:32 p.m.

    I always look for the will power to do one of these comments, always find it by sleeping .I thought this was pretty interesting since right now many senior are looking for will power as we come close to end of the school year. I did find that when I eat and sleep afterwards I have more will to work out or go to work.

  • joshn-Koc
    5/17/2015 - 06:59 p.m.

    The muscle that provides willpower is the brain. By exercising, the Brian's ability to use it's willpower strengthens. Meditation also helps as well. The brain also needs the right amount of sleep.

  • SydneyL-Kut
    5/17/2015 - 08:06 p.m.

    I'm not really sure how much will power I have; but I don't think meditation would help you get better willpower. To me, meditation is just a way to sit around and get distracted after a few minutes. I don't understand how it will help you with your will power. The only way I think it would help is that if you're just sitting there, then you can't be doing something that will test your willpower. Or, maybe it takes all your will power to not get up and DO SOMETHING. Anyway, most people don't even have time to just sit and contemplate the universe. So really, meditation probably wouldn't be a good way to build up your will power. (At least for me.)

  • 1PaulS
    5/17/2015 - 09:14 p.m.

    The muscle that provides us willpower is the desire to succeed in what ever you want to achieve. I myself have no will power when it comes to MacDonald's Cheeseburgers. I really, really love them. Now I am fortunate that I am kind of tall and skinny so weight is not the problem. The problem is that I can eat them every day, every meal. My will power is my mom saying no not today. Now it does not help that I do not want to give up MacDonald's cheeseburgers, well at least until (like my mom says I have my first clogged artery.

  • GabyGGrey
    5/20/2015 - 12:05 a.m.

    My willpower "muscle" is very weak. I get frustrated with my self when I can't get myself to do something because I don't want to even move from my comfortable couch. That's part of the reason why I'm a huge procrastinator. I will definitely try more exercise and meditating!

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