Why is will-power so fleeting?

At certain times, it feels as if we have an abundance of will-power. And at others, entirely the opposite is true.

Psychologists investigated this further and found that we all have limited reservoirs of will-power. They found out how people experiencing a higher amount of stress or the ones who have exerted higher mental effort through the day are likely to have depleted their stores of will-power. In this depleted state, they made poorer decisions.

They also measured their blood sugar levels and found that people a state of lower will-power corresponds to lower sugar levels in the blood. Interestingly, restoring sugar levels in their blood also restored the subjects’ ability to think clearly. It also gave them a sweet tooth –  when given a choice between a virtuous fruit salad and a sinful chocolate cake, the depleted people often opted for the latter. Quite disturbingly, a study of eight Israeli judges showed how they were likely to approve requests for parole 65% of time right after each meal, and how their approval rates steadily dropped to zero until it spiked back up after the next meal restored their sugar levels.

When you find yourself devoid of the will to accomplish a difficult task, the problem may lie outside the task itself – a stressful day at work, a poor night of sleep or merely a growling stomach.

Inspiration: Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

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