The Wall Street Journal:
Steam power sets massive, clunky turbines into motion. Horsepower involves explosions of work, with engines hurtling cars down a freeway. Solar power taps the awesome might of the sun itself and may someday light entire cities.
But willpower seems different. For one thing, it more often describes disciplined inactivity, such as resisting a temptation, than some observable action. While metaphorical horses produce horsepower and the sun solar power, it’s not easy to frame “wills” in an equivalent way. It won’t work to say, “The candy store was soon occupied by thousands of frenzied wills, displaying their formidable willpower by refusing to buy anything.”
It turns out, however, that the power part of “willpower” is no mere figure of speech. The brain is as real a blood-and-guts biological entity as… your blood and guts. The brain requires tons of energy—at rest, it consumes about 25% of your circulating glucose, despite constituting only about 3% of your body weight.
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