New Year’s Resolutions and the Science of Willpower – Facts So Romantic

The “marshmallow experiment” has become a famous way to measure the self-control of children. (This is a version of the test made for entertainment, not research, purposes.)

Every year since 1988, my friend Lou and I have picked a New Year’s resolution together. We meticulously keep to each promise for exactly one year. The 2014 resolution was to not eat peanut butter or cotton candy (it’s funnier that way).  Now it’s 2015, and I have been eating a lot of peanut butter, but not touching rice—that’s this year’s resolution.

Back in the 80s these resolutions just seemed like a fun thing to do, but I had vague ideas that it might be training my willpower. Now that we know more about psychology, I realize that my intuitions were right.

Willpower turns out to be incredibly important. People with more willpower are happier and healthier, have better relationships, make more money, are more successful in their careers, live longer, and are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and overcome adversity. Having lots of self-discipline predicts success better than IQ.

So how do you make your willpower stronger? Willpower works like a muscle in two important…
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