Willpower is the key to much that’s good in life. Willpower is what makes us save for the future rather than splurge now. It helps us to keep our heads down, studying and working when we really don’t feel like it, to earn that degree or promotion. Willpower allows us to say no to that tempting cigarette, extra dessert, or second glass of whiskey — and to hop on the treadmill. And, of course, failures of self-control can sabotage all those goals.
So it’s no wonder that psychological scientists have been studying willpower for decades, trying to figure out who is disciplined under what circumstances — and why. What exactly is going on in the mind’s cognitive machinery — and the brain’s neurons — when we successfully summon our will — or when we say, oh the hell with it?
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