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)
  • GriffinO-5
    5/13/2015 - 09:48 p.m.

    Everyone has will power but sometimes it can be better or worse. Some things like sleep can help you boost your willpower. Your brain requires calories and nutrients to work so eating will boost your will power. Even with these boosts though as the day grows shorter your willpower usually weakens. to strengthen your will power you can also physically exercise and even meditate to reduce stress. Laughing and being in a good mood also helps.
    Honestly, my willpowers really low. Sometimes ill just snack for what seems like ever without thinking. I think it is probably from lack of sleep.

  • HannahM-3
    5/14/2015 - 01:22 a.m.

    We all have willpower whether we try to use it or not. Willpower is like muscles and can be powerful or weaker. There are many things you can do to train your brain to have a stronger willpower and to resist the urges to eat a sweet treat. If you go for a jog instead of another trip to the refrigerator you can make your willpower stronger. Meditation is a great way to boost your self-control. Being in a great mood such as doing something that makes you laugh is also a great idea. I thought this article was really interesting to read about. I really learned some great tips on improving my willpower and will definitely try these sometime.

  • orahf-
    5/14/2015 - 08:53 a.m.

    To help you have better willpower you need a good night 's sleep, exercise, to eat better and meditation. You will be less temptated to make bad choices.I need willpower to get up in the morning for school and not hit the snooze button.Willpower is not to answering or checking your phone during the day.

  • Miag-Pav
    5/14/2015 - 09:59 a.m.

    Will power is an essential part of a growing adolescent's well-being, and I know that after reading this article, there are several things I can try that will help me to further enhance my will power.

  • keighanat-Goo
    5/14/2015 - 10:44 a.m.

    Everyone has willpower, just not everyone notices it. It's a muscle in our body. The text states, "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." Some can be very strong, or some can be super weak. The text also states that, "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."

  • erinf-Eic
    5/14/2015 - 10:47 a.m.

    I can see how now a days people don't have enough will power because it has to do with sleep. With electronics these days people don't get enough sleep.

  • Alecl-OBr
    5/14/2015 - 02:05 p.m.

    The muscle that provides willpower is probably in your brain to help fight bad habits. I actually only have the 4 out of 5 to contain willpower. the 1 left out is sleep. I have a hard time sleeping at night, so it's hard for me to fight bad habits. I actually didn't even know that meditation helped me with my willpower! 910

  • KiraL-1
    5/14/2015 - 02:58 p.m.

    This article is about willpower. Everybody has willpower, and it comes in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes, if we get a good night's sleep, our willpower will be stronger than somebody who's only slept for a few hours. Also, food affects our willpower. To do what our brains have to do, we need to eat lots of calories to get it functioning properly. Even after days of strong willpower, we just can't resist temptation and we dive in. Exercise, meditation, and comedy will get your willpower to be stronger, improves self control, and has us handle stress better. I found this article very interesting. Willpower is a big component in how our brains function.

  • MeganSCamo
    5/14/2015 - 04:46 p.m.

    I have found myself in different situations where it is hard to find your willpower, but I have learned to push through it. As mist of you know life is super tricky to figure out, and especially figure out what is the wrong and right thing to do. I've always heard to trust your gut, but I like to say trust your heart!

  • NeilWSilver
    5/14/2015 - 04:46 p.m.

    When I think of willpower, I (like always) think of how the brain does what it does. Have you ever wondered how the brain even works? There are so many misconceptions about the brain and the brains of other animals that it almost is humorous. For instance, it is an old urban legend that humans use 10% of their brain. Ha ha ha. If we used that much of our brain, we might still be living the stone age. And the inner workings of our brain, too complex for me to understand. But I still tried. It is by far, one of the most non understood thins in the human body. (or any other animals body, I just used humans as an example because they are the most intelligent species. The reason is because they have the best brain to body ratios.)

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