Having low willpower can make it harder to get those tasks that need doing done. It can stop us from working out, stop us from eating right and even stop us from quitting smoking. But what exactly is willpower?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) willpower can be defined as “a basic ability to delay gratification”. This means that those who lack willpower will take the option that provides instant gratification, for example having a cigarette, rather than delaying gratification (feeling healthier and happier once you have quit smoking).
If you struggle with willpower, you are not alone – research has shown that it is often a personality trait. Having said this, further studies suggest that willpower is something that can be learned and increased.
How to increase your willpower
There are certain steps you can take to help yourself strengthen and build willpower:
1. Stay energised
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that willpower can best be described as a strength model – meaning that you are more likely to have stronger willpower if you are feeling energetic rather than if you feel tired or burnt out. To give yourself the best chance of success, keep yourself energised by staying well rested, eating well and exercising.
2. Treat yourself every now and then
This strength theory explains why crash diets and exercising seven days a week rarely works to build willpower. Pushing yourself too hard will make you feel fatigued and will actually weaken willpower. Instead treat yourself occasionally with rest days, cheat meals etc. to help keep spirits up.
3. Do it for yourself
Exerting willpower because of outside sources will always be harder than exerting willpower independently. Make sure the change you’re trying to make is something you want, whether it’s for your health, happiness or general well-being.
4. Be happy
According to research, when you’re in a good mood, your willpower will be stronger. Many of us can relate to this as when we feel down we often find we feel unmotivated. With this in mind, keep your spirits high by doing what makes you happy – this could be listening to an uplifting song, watching your favourite movie or even watching cute animal videos on YouTube (in fact one study has shown that looking at cute animals increases willpower, so take a five minute break to watch puppies guilt-free).
If you think you would benefit from professional help when it comes to developing willpower, hypnotherapy could help. Find out what areas hypnotherapy could help with by visiting our hypnotherapy areas.
View and comment on the original Inspiyr article.