I have found that increasing optimism increases willpower. It’s important to learn how to manage stress. Being under high levels of stress means that our body’s energy is used up in acting instinctively and making decisions based on short-term outcomes. Stopping to take a few deep breaths when we feel overwhelmed or tempted can be a great start in managing our stress levels and improving our willpower. It’s also important to encourage yourself to stick to your plan. A good example I have learned over the years is the difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t”. When you tell yourself you can’t do something, you’re creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations. So try telling yourself that you don’t do that bad habit, rather than punishing yourself by saying “I can’t.” Also, getting a lot of sleep helps manage energy better. Sleep deprivation (even just getting less than six hours a night) is a kind of chronic stress that impairs how the body and brain use energy. I feel happier and more productive when I get a good nights sleep. Meditation has also been linked to increasing the reserve of willpower we have available, as well as improving attention, focus, stress management and self-awareness. Better exercise and nutrition is the most ignored route to higher willpower. Regular physical exercise is a great way to train the brain, that is often easily ignored or undervalued, yet can make you a lot more resilient to stress, and boost willpower. Both relaxing, mindful exercises like yoga and intense physical training can provide these benefits. Not only will exercise and good nutrition improve your willpower, but they’ll make you feel better as well. Exercise in particular is known for making us happy by releasing endorphins. I liked how the famous experiment using marshmallows to test kids’ willpower was featured in the slides. What happens is a child is left alone in a room with one marshmallow for an undefined period of time. If they can resist eating the marshmallow, they’re rewarded with a second marshmallow at the end of the experiment. If they eat the marshmallow before time is up, they only get that one.