It has recently come to light that willpower isn’t a muscle after all; at least, not a muscle like the ab or the quad or that underachiever charged with governing the whole Louisiana Purchase known as the gluteous maximus.
Willpower doesn’t increase in strength with constant exercise. No, an entire day’s allotment of willpower is just a few pinches of fairy dust, dangerously depleted by the mere act of getting out of bed in the morning.
Every time you exercise willpower, you've weakened your ability to resist any other temptation that comes along. Use it, you lose it.
In the morning, should you pour milk rather than cream in your coffee, reach for the oatmeal instead of the doughnut, subject your teeth to a vigorous flossing, then by noon you'll be trading jello shots with the underemployed stockbroker you met at the gas station.
This revoluntary discovery in the realm of willpower explains a great many things, doesn’t it. Why, when you give up smoking, you can’t find the forest for pizza boxes. Or when you go cold turkey on online shopping, you find yourself staring at the bottom of a bottle of Mojito Premix.
Common wisdom seems to indicate (and here I’m talking about this week’s common wisdom, not that soiled, lipstickstained wisdom from a year ago), the only way to ensure you always have plenty of willpower in the hopper is to yield to the very first temptation and stay in bed.
Maybe one day the scientific community will come up with a way to trade willpower credits – borrow from the monk who drinks only water and lives on 900 calories a day, for example.
Until that time, don’t stop with one bear claw on Christmas morning. Then, when something serious comes along, like the chance to reconstruct a 30-year old childhood argument during Christmas dinner, you can smile to yourself and reach for the gravy.
Willpower – it’s not just for breakfast anymore.