Texas Tech University

How to improve willpower? Feed it.

How to improve willpower? Feed it.

Bridging the gap between who we are and who we want to be is often exhausting. To become fitter, we need to keep from blowing off the gym. And to do that, we need willpower.

Children who have the self-control to resist a marshmallow now in order to receive two later generally have better SAT scores and a lower adult body mass index. But as adults, why is it often so difficult to hold out for the grown-up equivalent of the double marshmallow?

The answer could lie with our misconceptions about willpower. We tend to think of it as good old-fashioned resolve, unlimited and with each act of self-discipline separate from every other. But if you've ever felt like you've...