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?
Lexile

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. 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, if we log too few hours, it gets harder and harder to just say no.

Food is another key. 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. Suddenly, it's a lot 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. 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 (64)
  • laurenm-boo
    5/13/2015 - 11:06 a.m.

    It never really has to feel like it , but we all actually have willpower.Like a muscle though, it can be super strong or puny and weak. Here are a couple things that can boost or zap your sense of self-control.

  • EmilyK-2
    5/13/2015 - 02:54 p.m.

    This article is about the question on whether or not everybody has willpower, and what it is. Willpower is the ability to resist destructive urges you get, like eating junk food. Although it may not seem like it, everybody has willpower. It is like a muscle, some peoples is weaker than others though. Resisting those urges can be hard but things that help are being well rested, exercising and meditating. I think it's very interesting that you can change how your brain works by meditating and exercising to not crave destructive things as much, because I always thought it was more about what you tell yourself, and your brain was the only one that could control what you think.

  • OliviaV-3
    5/13/2015 - 03:05 p.m.

    This article was about willpower. There are many ways to increase willpower. One is too make sure you get enough sleep. Another is to make sure you are getting enough food and energy. Science has proven that meditation can help increase willpower. If you cannot meditate, laughter is also an alternative. A good mood can help overpower a weak will. I liked this article because it was interesting to learn what scientists keep discovering. It was cool to learn that meditating can create stronger willpower.

  • TaylorH-4
    5/13/2015 - 04:05 p.m.

    Will power can be either super strong, or weak. One way to have good will power is to get a good night of sleep. Another way is to eat good food, which will help temptations to eat unhealthy food. It will also power your brain. Physical exercise allows us to handle stress. These are ways to have good will power. I enjoyed this article because I learned things I never knew about will power.

  • JacquelynS-3
    5/13/2015 - 04:05 p.m.

    Whether it seems like it or not, we all have will power. Like a muscle, it can be super small, or really puny and weak. Some things that boost your sense of self-control are sleep and food. Physical exercise allows us to handle stress better and it actually leads to some changes in your brain. A good mood can also overpower a weak will.

    I learned will power is easier to manipulate than I would have thought.

  • JackD-3
    5/13/2015 - 06:26 p.m.

    This article was about how will power is like a muscle. It has to do with our brain and how it functions. Enough sleep and food are major parts of how strong your will power is. Some other factors are if you are happy, if you exercise, and if you meditate. If you meditate and exercise, your brain will change and you will actually have much more will power than before. Will power is needed to avoid destructive urges.

    I think that this article is really important, seeing that will power is something we all need. I especially feel like that it is very important to keep your will power very strong.

  • LucasL-Kut
    5/13/2015 - 06:38 p.m.

    I think why sometimes we have strong willpower and sometimes we don't. Is because maybe your having a bad day and you just want it over with sometimes. And sometimes we have strong willpower because someone motivates you to just keep going.

  • LaurenT-5
    5/13/2015 - 08:09 p.m.

    This article is about will power. Many people think we don't have any but we actually do. We just need to trigger it at the right times. A good nights sleep will help you be more boosted and have more energy. This will help you make decisions easier and faster while being right. Good is also something that triggers will power. Being able to choose the right food and how many calories can help us more and more. Physical excersise can help us out too by having us not having so much temptation. Meditation helps us relax more and cool down. I thought this was a very interesting article. It taught me a lot.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    5/13/2015 - 08:37 p.m.

    I think that it is kind of confusing to other people but we all do have power in our body which is in the muscle which helps us self-control which is really cool, but now if science isn't here, then we wouldn't know that we have power in our muscles. Well if we do have power, I think that people wouldn't believe that we do have power, but science do believe that we have power in our muscles.

  • Hannahmab-3
    5/13/2015 - 08:42 p.m.

    Will power ,or self control is something you need a lot of. Will power helps you make good decisions and avoid problems. Some ways to boost your self control is to get a good nights sleep and to eat property. The brain needs calories to work properly so when you don't eat you lower your self control, it is the same with sleep. Another way to strengthen your will power it to exercise and meditate. Exercise can boost your body back up after a tiring day and gets your blood moving again. Meditating calms yourself down and makes you more self aware and helps you to make better decisions. Will power can be small or large, either way it is s good thing to have and is used every day.

    I have always thought of will power as more of a mental strength not as self control to to make the two ideas was king of weird but makes sense. I do think I need to have more self control and need help making better decisions so to read this article was helpful for me.

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