Sunday, December 18, 2011

Willpower – Just say no

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.

42 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. After awhile willpower just becomes a simple mindset... For me, my way of eating use to take 'willpower'... Now, I know why certain foods are better than others... Now its just a way of life, so now there is no will power involved.. I've logically accepted a new way of eating...

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  3. I'm so glad you've finally explained that willpower is just fairy dust and not a bottomless well. It explains so much...

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  4. This is why you're my spiritual adviser.

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  5. I just finished working out and it appears John finished off the chocolates last night.

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  6. Do not confuse willpower with tradition. Those 30-year old childhood arguments over Christmas dinner are valued traditions...at least they are in my family. Besides, I'm accumulating all of my willpower fairy dust for the day when my doctor tells me I'm too old to eat steak and potatoes with butter, accompanied by the glass of wine or martini. I'm going to need all the willpower I can get.

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  7. Sounds right to me. I'll just stay in bed all week, then I won't need any willpower!

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  8. WooHoo!!! I like your way of thinking Hiker!!!

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  9. Glad to know it's come to light that having cream in my coffee every morning is actually helping my willpower for the rest of the day. I'll continue to get all my science news from you!

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  10. Explains why I can't stop posting blather in your comments section. You are my yerantur. wv

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  11. How did you know what my past day was like? It started with the mini quiches at the PBDA swing dance around 10:00 PM last night. Still not over...

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  12. Oh PJ, deleting that comment was a most unnecessary use of fairy dust.

    Kalei, I'll bet you floss three times a day.

    Diana, yes. And when it comes to swapping credits, we can learn a lot from Petrea and John.

    Terri, I just read Norway has run out of butter. That's what an entire country deserves after experimenting with willpower.

    I knew with Marjie and Chieftess, this was just preaching to the choir.

    Katie and I, we'd use any excuse for a good cup of coffee.

    Bandit, yes. Leave a comment here -- it's the other white meat.

    Earl, I think after midnight, willpower turns into a pumpkin.

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  13. lol!

    I came over here to read because I'm taking a break from writing up decades of my medical history for the interview I've got with a new internist Monday afternoon.

    I suspect "steak and potatoes" will not be on the list of approved inputs she has for me. Then again, after 2 kinds of cancer, they really weren't on my list anyway.

    Actually, I'm just hoping she sends me for a blood draw tomorrow afternoon...at least then I can drown my stress in a bowl of mashed potatoes and some Glenlivet Monday night before the rabbit food diet she'll recommend, sets in.

    And Mr Earl, any food eaten while standing up, does not count calorie-wise---same goes for reclining (which means ALL that Passover brisket and 4 glasses of wine doesn't count either!).

    wv: faboo this new rabbit food diet is just faboo, really, I couldn't say more about it! (are we back in the 80's?)

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  14. Norway ran out of butter???!!! Uncheck!!! Off my travel list until they are again well stocked!!!

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  15. Sorry, I lost concentration at the mention of fairy dust.

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  16. I went to college with a guy named Will Power. He was irresistible. Really.

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  17. in grade school, our principal said "if there's a will, there's a way" waaay to often. in the end, willpower is definitely more of a metaphor for us to better organize and interpret our psyches, rather than something tangible like a muscle.

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  18. You just had to be careful not to use him all up in the morning, right Brenda.

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  19. I've used up all my fairy dust - maybe I should switch to Angel dust. I hear it suppresses appetite.

    At least thats what Mr Ed recommended

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  20. So it's sort of like what Homer Simpson said about beer - The source of, and the solution to, all our problems.

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  21. I think the trick to conserving willpower would be to drink that beer in the morning. In bed.

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  22. "..to drink that beer in the morning. In bed."

    aka "1979."

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  23. So, I guess I'll indulge when someone brings in another delicious, too-sweet, fattening dessert to the office for the holidays. :-)

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  25. and hey, wait! I guess I should book on over to Norway--no butter in the entire nation! I'd be in heaven! Yes, I'm allergic, which helps my willpower.

    use him up..oh, I'm just not going to go there!

    wv: amadises---my jokes just amadises y'all into hilarity...right?

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  26. I once spent mornings in bed regretting beer, does that count?

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  27. Man, would I like to know what prompted this! But I'll settle for all this clever word play and . . . ?paradox?. Most enjoyable.

    Can Brenda be telling the truth? On the other hand, I just learned of a 9-yr.-old day-to-day name, given by her parents, is Go-Go. And she doesn't even live in SoCal. Or Alaska.

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  28. Willpower: doing something we are inclined to not do, impulse power: doing precisely what we feel like doing. I've spent my entire morning mentally debating that question, instead of getting some writing done.

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  29. I read this somewhere. I can't remember, but I did find it interesting. I feel like I have will power spurts as opposed to a daily amount. Some days I'm practically a saint, other days...It's bad.

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  30. I heard about this theory first via my favorite scientists on Radio Lab. Stick with this for a slice of the pie:

    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=122781981&m=122971033

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  31. And this is all very comforting, because it means I'm not weak (necessarily), I just have way too much on my mind.

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  32. Often, I follow your thought process and along the way wonder where the F we're going. I love living inside your mind KB. I think we are alike.... but not.

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  33. Love it . . . stay in bed AND eat a bear claw? Two of the things that tempt me the most . . . we are kindred spirits!

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  34. I just figured out who Mrs. Ed is from PDP's Zen Monday.

    So, might we say will power is overrated? I'm not even going to set my alarm for tomorrow morning.

    These comments are hilarious. Will Power?! Really?

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  35. Mind over matter makes my brain hurt. Why aren't there more fairies?

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  36. Petrea---yes, that does count as will power---smart enough not to get up and drink more at that moment, yes!

    bear claw in bed, beer in bed, hot men in bed...this comment streak is going in interesting directions! ;-O

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  37. Bed seems to be the recurring theme.

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