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Do This to Increase Your Willpower and Self-Control

Updated: Jan 14


Tree-like brain illustration symbolizing increased willpower

Are you struggling with self-discipline and finding it challenging to resist temptations? You're not alone. We all have those days when just saying 'yes' or 'no' to ourselves isn't quite enough. But the good news is, that willpower is not a fixed trait; it's a muscle that can be strengthened with practice. This article, inspired by the insights from Andrew Huberman's video "How to Increase Your Willpower & Tenacity," will provide you with comprehensive strategies to enhance your willpower and self-control.



Understanding Willpower


There are at least two types of willpower. The first is the willingness to engage in activities we don't want to, which is the sense of 'I absolutely will.' The second is the willingness to resist something we desire, which is the sense of 'I absolutely won't.'



Accepting the Reality of Tough Days


Even David Goggins or any tough man has days when telling himself to 'just do this' or 'don't do that' is not enough for him to engage or resist a certain behavior. This is simply the reality we face. Acknowledging this reality is the first step towards understanding and improving your willpower.



Willpower is Limited


Willpower is a limited resource. Each decision we make throughout the day, and every additional exertion of willpower, draws from this reservoir of willpower within us. The ability for our willpower to deplete with each successive attempt to exercise it, and consequently, our capacity to replenish our degree of willpower, can be improved by taking breaks from decision-making and exerting willpower.


Whether we are making decisions or expending effort to engage in activities we don't prefer at the moment or trying to resist certain behaviors, thoughts, or temptations that pull us in a direction we instinctively want to go, such as eating sweets or indulging in a specific thought, these actions drain our willpower resource.



The Role of the Brain in Willpower


Certain areas in our brain are responsible for generating willpower, such as mid cingulate cortex. This brain part expands as willpower increases, but also this brain part shrinks when we stop doing hard work.



The Cycle of Willpower: Depletion and Recovery


When we are well-rested, such as getting sufficient sleep, our levels of tenacity and willpower are much higher. Conversely, if we're not getting enough sleep regularly, our willpower and tenacity will be diminished.


Additionally, when we're sleep-deprived, in physical pain, or experiencing emotional distress, or when we're distracted, our willpower tends to diminish.



The Influence of Glucose on Willpower


The availability of glucose can significantly influence our willpower. Our brain requires a lot of energy, primarily in the form of glucose, as it predominantly relies on glucose for its functioning. However, for those following a keto diet, which primarily relies on ketones as its main source of energy, glucose is not the preferred fuel. For those who regularly consume carbohydrates, glucose serves as the preferred fuel for neurons and cells in our bodies and brains, which helps maintain and even increase willpower when facing difficult tasks.



When We Get Used to Uncomfortable: Overcoming the Plateau


When we get used to challenges that we don't want to, and it becomes easy, we are unlikely to increase willpower.


To keep increasing our willpower, engaging in exercises or behaviors that we're not currently doing is crucial. For instance, taking a cold shower is a tough challenge that requires willingness, but if you already enjoy cold showers, it's very unlikely to further increase your willpower and tenacity.





Strategy to Increase Willpower: Keep Seeking Challenges to Increase Willpower


In terms of exercises, exercises that are easy to perform and don't elevate the heart rate significantly won't create changes in brain structure associated with tenacity and willpower. If you're already used to your exercise routine, whether it's moderate or high-intensity cardio or resistance training, you need to add intensity to stimulate the brain further. This can be adding more exercises, extending the duration, or increasing the frequency of exercise. Simply continuing what you're already doing may maintain your current level but won't significantly build your tenacity and willpower.


Hard challenges or difficult tasks activate the anterior cingulate cortex, where associated with willpower and tanacity while easy challenges do not. Therefore, it's essential to choose something challenging, either physically or psychologically, that you don't want to do, requires effort, and introduces friction.


For example, this could be adding one more additional set, or at the end of a language lesson, taking time to reflect on what you've learned rather than opting for the easy option. Of course, if you're excited about an additional challenging task, it may not stimulate your willpower, as easy and desirable tasks don't have the same effect. Engaging in tasks you don't want to do can effectively increase your willpower.



The Power of Microsuck


Microsuck is a powerful method for building willpower, involving the resistance of small impulses. You can apply this technique to your daily life, such as not checking your phone, including messaging or emails, until you complete an important task of the day.


Once you've got used to resisting small impulses, challenge yourself to resist longer or more intense urges. The stronger the impulse you can resist, the more likely it is to activate the anterior cingulate cortex, enhancing your willpower. Make sure, the challenge is neither unhealthy nor dangerous.



The Role of Testosterone in Willpower


Since testosterone is the hormone that makes effort feel good, it plays a crucial role in enhancing willpower. Understanding how to optimize your testosterone levels can offer additional benefits.



Conclusion: Building Tenacity and Willpower


In conclusion, it's indeed possible to build tenacity and willpower. Overcoming challenges or resisting temptations can significantly enhance our willpower, equipping us with the strength to navigate life's challenges more effectively.


To continuously boost your willpower need to keep seeking challenges that you don't feel like.


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