2 Quick Tips to Improve Your Willpower

By , By Abigail L. Cuffey, of Woman's Day

If you think you’re powerless to resist the dessert tray, hear this: “Research shows that willpower is like a muscle and can be strengthened,” says Roy Baumeister, social psychologist and author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. A good way to do this is to take one small habit and override it, which then improves your self-control in other situations (such as losing weight or quitting smoking).


1. Using your nondominant hand (your left hand if you’re a righty) for everyday activities like brushing your teeth or holding your coffee cup.

2. Sitting up straight. Research shows that people who consciously worked on improving their posture for two weeks did better on self-control tests.

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What other ways do you try to improve your willpower?

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Bit late here, but I just read Baumeister's whole book. Sad news for lefties: the "use your non-dominant hand" tip doesn't work as well for us (probably, researchers think, becasue of a lifetime of accomodating right-handed tools, etc.). Still--sit up straight and read this book, which is fascinating and helpful at the same time! Report
Jennj11-- Your message is on-target! -- These two tips for helping will-power are not solutions for me. (and if I were to brush my teeth with my left hand, I would still be tempted by wrong foods, however, my teeth would suffer) lol :-) Report
REALLY? That's it?

I agree witht he above sitting up straight always a good idea. .... but seriously if it was all just that simple, we'd all be at a healthy weight! Report
Paul McKenna says in "I CAN MAKE YOU THIN" that we all have the willpower to resist eating ANYTHING, and there is no such think as saying we just can't stop ourselves from having some certain food. He says it is because if we had a piece of chocolate cake and it fell on the floor in a pile of nasty dog hair and other yuck, we would NOT pick it up and eat it then. So, he says when we can stop ourselves from eating that nasty dog-hair cake, we CAN keep ourselves from eating anything else IF WE WANT TO. I certainly know I wouldn't eat something gross, so I think he has a valid point. Report
Listen, if somebody put that delicious-looking slice of chocolate cake in front of me, I'd find a way to eat it with both hands tied behind my back! LOL! Sorry, but sitting up straight and brushing my teeth with my nondominant hand are really not going to help me improve willpower. Besides, I'm ambidextrous... ; ) Report
Makes perfect sense to me. You CAN do what you think you can't! You are not a slave to your emotions unless you give in to them. Don't be a victim! Report
Interesting article, although I can't say I agree that it will increase your willpower. I can see how using your nondominant hand to eat will cause you to eat slower which can cause you to feel full and stop eating, thereby reducing calories which is needed to lose weight. I don't quite get the part about sitting up straight, but good posture is always something good to practice and if there is a bonus to it, then that's alright too. Report
I don't believe that you can change your willpower. it's an emotion and emotions change a lot. It's about redesigning our lives so we don't fail. It's about putting exercise in our lives on pupose, about making good choices when we shop for food by sticking to list of healthy things we made and supporting our selves with positive people to support us. Report
I think there might be two parts to it.

One is that by "changing" a habit that we don't have a pre-conceived notion we can't, we prove to ourselves that we have that ability.

The other is that something like using our non-dominant hand takes being aware of the times we favor the dominant hand. How else to improve our self-control than by making us more self-aware. Can't exercise will-power if there's no will involved. Report
Well, I'll give it a try & see how well that works Report
Gosh, that chocolate cake looks delicious!! Report
Although I agree with pps that I expected more (but hey, it's a guest blog from Woman's Day...that's not rocket science, guys) these ARE good suggestions.

If you use your non-dominant hand, or conscientiously sit up straighter--you are paying attention. Most of will-power depends on paying attention (without obsession) to what you want to change. So...weird as it sounds, these are good places to begin. Report
I don't understand the point of using my non-dominant hand..... how will that help exercise willpower? Report
I agree with Karate Kid...Really? Use your left hand and sit up straight? THAT'S your big plan!? How about I keep busting my tail in the gym and it will be "all for not" if I eat this one stupid peice of cake. Report
That's it? Using your left hand and sitting up straight? Sorry, SP, I expected more from this article. Report
Think about every 'bad' food as it relates to my goal; will it be worth it? Report
that Got garbled sorry. other articles and ads kept poping up. Report
I found that the year that I made it a point to fold my napkin cranberry after a meal (paper or cloth didn't matter) was the year that I had the most control over my nutrition and exercize. It was the year I had the best results. This interesting article has me thinking it's time to choseTh another simple task that I always do every day every meal. Report
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