The downside of willpower

In one of many psychological pieces of research on willpower, the group of students undergone severe challenges. With an empty stomach, they had to constraint from eating freshly made chocolate cakes, and settle with eating radishes. That, as researchers assumed, depleted their sources of willpower. But how to check if their willpower level actually dropped? It is not enough to ask. We all sometimes declare willpower and just a minute after to fall into the temptation.

The scientists devised a much more practical measure. They asked the test subjects to solve a puzzle. It was a special puzzle. It was impossible to solve in any way. The measure of the willpower was the amount of time they tried to solve it. The longer one tried, the more he had willpower. The sooner one surrendered the lower willpower.

The research was a success; it occurred that constraining from eating the chocolate cookie, depletes willpower.

But for me, this is only part of the conclusions. The second part is that: if you have a lot of willpower you have a tendency to behave unwisely. What is smart about trying to do something impossible, here: solving the unsolvable puzzle?

I have rather a lot of willpower. And very often I try to solve problems just because I meet them on my way. Not because they are important, and their solving will change something. Just because someone or something put a problem before me, and something inside me catch it and hold tight till finding the solution. Few problems are unresolvable, but many are not worthy of loose time on them. Willpower can be the weakness if you lack perspective or let us say an aerial perspective.

Sometimes it is better to give up sooner and not to fight till the end. Being mindful is an obligatory complement to willpower.