Will Power

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Will power

When it comes to losing weight, will power is something that is certainly over-rated, but does have some importance. So often, the failed dieter will put the failure down to a lack of willpower.

Clearly, making better decisions about how we behave and what we choose to do is better than simply will power, but will power does play a part. So, what do you do to increase your will power?

A famous experiment carried out at Stanford in the late 1960's involved exposing young children to a single marshmallow. They would be left alone for a few minutes but told beforehand that if they didn't eat the marshmallow, that they could have another one.  If they ate it, then they did not get another one.

This was an experiment in what is known in psychology as deferred gratification. Can we delay our immediate pleasure for a long term gain?

Unsurprisingly a lot of children were not able to wait.

Some would even eat the marshmallow but still expect to be given another one.

The results of this study were interesting. The children who are able to defer gratification in order to wait for a second treat, tend to have better life success than the children who were unable to wait.

Compare these two children. One child happily sits there, patiently waiting for the time to pass and then to claim his reward.  A second child eats the marshmallow and then demands his reward. The rules do not apply to him as far as he is concerned. It is clear which child will find life easier.

Of course, most children will be somewhere between the two, having to find ways to distract themselves to avoid eating the marshmallow. Think about this, would you have been a one marshmallow or a two marshmallow child?

How willing and able are you to defer gratification for long term gain?

Chances are you find this difficult. Most people do.

So, in order to find life easier all round, not just when it comes to losing weight, start building your will power.

One way you can do this is simply by sitting still. Position yourself opposite a clock. Don't move a muscle for one full minute (do breathe though, breathing is good). you will be amazed at how suddenly your body will try to defy you. Suddenly an itch will appear here and there, demanding to be scratched.

Thoughts will arise in your mind telling you how stupid this is or how important it is to answer that ringing telephone (they can call back later). In fact, the chances are that if you repeat this practice once a day every day, you will discover just how fast the mind creates thoughts that are designed to try and prevent you from completing such a simple task.

Over time your mind will quieten and your ability to override these impulses and urges will improve.

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