The so-called Marshmallow Experiment sheds some light on their importance.
It was carried out nearly 40 years ago. Kids were given a chance to have a marshmallow immediately or after 15 minutes. These kids were revisited in their adult life so that the researchers could see how well they were doing.
The researchers found out that the kids who resisted the marshmallow temptation were more successful in school, they were healthier and much more satisfied in their relationships than those looking for immediate gratification.
Willpower can be cultivated.
There are certain steps to follow and a routine to adhere to but if you’re committed enough, you can see major improvements.
1. Know When to Exercise Self-Control
Increasing your willpower and psychological stamina is quite similar to growing your muscles.
You need training sessions but you also need proper relaxation to allow the muscle tissue to heal properly and to grow before the next set of exercises.
Exercising self-control all of the time will quickly lead to exhaustion and the loss of restraint.
Give yourself a break every now and then. It’s ok to give into temptation if you know the important aspects of life that necessitate restraint and self-control.
2. Focus on What You Can Do Rather Than What You Can’t Do
A positive mindset is incredibly important for developing strong willpower.
Many people view self-control as a set of things that they can’t do rather than as an opportunity to improve themselves.
Thus, you need to create a positive mindset that involves the setting of goals starting with “I can” rather than “I can’t.”
Here’s a simple example of how to accomplish the goal.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you have to find the willpower inside you to refuse unhealthy treats and sweet temptations. Most people will view this as a limitation and an inability to eat certain foods.
Instead of telling yourself “I can’t eat that chocolate bar,” you should try to come up with a positive mantra. “I can have a range of healthy, delicious and colorful fruits” is a much better way to look at your new nutritional regime.
In the beginning, you will have to work hard to find the positive aspects of discipline and restrictions. With time, however, you will experience a mindset change that will help you pinpoint opportunities instead of limitations.
3. Use Your Imagination
Your imagination can help you grow your willpower from zero to a hundred.
The body can respond to what you can picture in your mind. Put emphasis on relaxing and happy thoughts, much like you should be seeing the opportunity instead of the limitation when it comes to self-control.
One interesting study pinpoints the importance of the technique.
In the experiment, volunteers were asked to watch a movie. Chocolate candies were placed nearby. The volunteers were divided in three groups. Members of the first group were asked to imagine they could eat all of the candy and members of the second group were asked to imagine they couldn’t eat any. Members of the third group were asked to imagine they could wait and eat the candy after some time.
Following this exercise, members of the three groups were allowed to eat some of the candy. Members of the first group ended up eating a lot more than the volunteers in the other two group.
Imagining specific scenarios like your end goal or the pleasure you’ll get from delaying an activity is a powerful technique that will give you the power to stay on track. The human mind has immense capabilities – don’t be afraid to put those to good use.
4. Practice a Bit of Self-Restraint Every Single Day
You don’t have to accomplish one major milestone the day after you decide to strengthen your willpower.
Daily accomplishments, even if they’re tiny ones, can keep you motivated to work on improving yourself.
You can, for example, start by attempting to make yourself more productive.
To do so, you will have to work harder and eliminate the distractions standing in the way of unleashing your full potential.
In the beginning, you may have to use a little help to accomplish the task. Reliance on an app like FocusMe could simplify the process. FocusMe limits your internet usage and restricts access to specific time-wasting sites.
As you grow more accustomed to the new routine, you can attempt to change your productivity in much more profound ways.
Celebrate every little success because it’s getting you closer to your end goal. You don’t have to make major strides every single day. Tiny milestones would soon add up to something quite meaningful.
5. Stop Rewarding Yourself with Bad Things
Justifying bad habits is one of the biggest obstacles towards strengthening your willpower.
Eating a slice of pizza because you have worked out is a major example of how something good could be rewarded with the worst thing.
Such behaviors hurt us in the long run. We believe that the one positive thing we’ve done will erase the negative effect of something else. In reality, bad habits that linger on are making us take a step back (even if that step is a tiny one).
Obviously, loosening up a bit every now and then is beneficial. You can have a treat that you like without feeling guilt. When good accomplishment justify bad actions, however, we’re keeping ourselves in a state of mind that’s the farthest possible thing from strong willpower.
The key here is to refrain from constantly rewarding yourself with bad things for good actions. Such behaviors create a vicious cycle that will be incredibly difficult to break out of.
Building your willpower will require conscious effort on your behalf. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable. Change can make you feel way out of your comfort zone. Getting uncomfortable, however, is the only way to see what you’re capable of when you no longer rely on familiar patterns and behaviors.
Self-restraint and willpower require time to be nurtured. Take it slow and give yourself a chance to become accustomed to the new you. As you grow stronger, you will discover everything that you’re capable of.