BY: SWIKAR OLI
“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners,” says Iago, admittedly one of Shakespeare’s more impulsive villains. But maybe that’s why he knows better than others that, if it weren’t for our willpower’s guidance, emotions and the “baseness of our natures” would lead us to the “most prepost’rous conclusions.” We use our will for self-control, to make decisions and improve.
A weak willpower suppresses our better instinct. Deeply committed-to life goals can fizzle into the void when doubt creeps in about our ability to achieve it. Minds become choked with thoughts of past failures and denials of our ability for personal regulation. Our goals become predisposed to failure.
But new research shows that our lack of faith in our willpower does not have to sadden us. It may then not be that people can’t resist an impulse, but that believing they can’t gets in the way. Put simply, “people who think they have unlimited willpower are more likely to be happier.”
The study, published in the Journal of Personality, says that people who believed their willpower was limited had a greater chance of feeling stressed in demanding situations. People who think their willpower is unlimited reported being more satisfied with their lives overall, “in part because they’re better able to cope when life gets more demanding,” British Psychological Society’s Research Digest reports.
In order to determine whether happier people just had more willpower, the article reports “the researchers conducted two more investigations with hundreds of university students, surveying their willpower beliefs and life satisfaction at the start of a university year, and then again six months later, just before exam time.” The results were that, “not only were beliefs in unlimited willpower associated with more life satisfaction and better moods at the start of the year, but also with more sustained positive well-being as the exam period approached.”
Studies show people with unlimited will power can more easily cope with demanding situations resulting in an overall happier life.
The study’s authors conclude: “A theory about [unlimited] willpower encourages people to successfully strive for and make progress towards personally meaningful goals.” Basically, it’s an act-as-if scenario where—regardless of your actual capacity for willpower—convincing yourself that you have an unlimited supply at your fingertips may, to some extent, make it so.