A 32 year study conducted by Duke University in New Zealand has revealed that willpower is central to living a healthy and successful life. The research tracked 1,000 children from birth and found that those who displayed greater willpower as children were more likely to grow into happy, well adjusted and healthy adults. Those less able to control their urges were less likely to do well academically, have fewer savings, be overweight and have issues with drugs or alcohol. They were also four times more likely to have a criminal record than those with strong willpower.
This research is just one of the studies referenced in the new book Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength by American social psychologist Roy Baumeister and New York Times science writer John Tierney. The book is an interesting read and looks at the importance of willpower in history and how it is a determinant to our happiness and overall success.
Luckily willpower is a mental muscle so it can be strengthened by simply taking part in a little daily mind exercise. According to Baumeister, this is as simple as changing small parts of your daily routine – maintaining good posture while at your desk or using the mouse with your other hand. But like all exercise there are three fundamental rules – plan, commit and most of all, do.