Where There’s a Will

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Think of some things you’ve promised yourself. I will finally finish Crime and Punishment. I will not hit the snooze button. I will write two pages every week. If only you had the willpower to see them through.

Now think about this: If you stick to your guns and plow through that Dostoyevsky, you may be more apt to follow through on those other ambitions, too. As Daniel Goleman reports in Greater Good (Winter 2009), now an online magazine about positive emotions, recent research suggests that “simply being consistently self-disciplined”—hitting the gym regularly, finishing that scrapbooking project—seems to boost our willpower supply, as do meditation techniques like mindfulness training.

“We can grow our willpower,” Goleman writes. “Like a muscle, the more we use it, the more it gradually increases over time. But this takes, of all things, willpower.”