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How to Strengthen Your Self Control

Self-improvement often requires willpower, a word the dictionary defines as “energetic determination,” but in modern times has come to mean “the ability not to inhale a donut every time you see one.”

As important as willpower is for establishing good health habits, Americans know little about it. Acquiring willpower is not something that is taught in public schools or discussed in many homes, and – outside of sports – it is seldom a theme in popular culture. Like annuities or kale, willpower is a thing that we know we should have more of, but don’t.

So what happens? We make New Year’s Resolutions and break them. We work out to get the perfect body, but end up wearing a huge T-shirt to the pool. We try to make it to lunch without drinking soda and fail. Beer? Five, please.

Then we blame ourselves for being failures, but the truth is we’re not failures. We’re willpower amateurs in a world of professionally-packaged temptation. It’s us, with zero training, against a $15 trillion economy that gets better at selling us things and capturing our attention every day.

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