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Published: December 16, 2022

What willpower does to your brain (and how to hack it)

Do you know what your brain does on willpower?

It’s happening whenever you try to resist anything or form new habits.

When you’re using willpower, the part of your brain responsible for reasoning, impulse control, and problem-solving (the prefrontal cortex) is activated.1

The opposite is true too.

With lower willpower levels, there’s not as much activity in the prefrontal cortex (sometimes none at all!). It’s also linked to other physiological symptoms, like lower blood sugar levels.2

That can mean we have a harder time making tough decisions.

Why does that matter?

Because, while the willpower gap seems impossible to close, there are simple ways to prevent it and bridge the gap. For example, the correlation between lower blood sugar and lower willpower suggests that eating regular balanced meals improves self-control when called on to make non-food decisions.2

The more we know about willpower, the better we’ll be at exercising it, making good choices, and achieving our goals. That’s the focus of this month’s Visual Insights Newsletter.

Want to read more about how to close the willpower gap? Click here to check out the rest.

P.S. What was the last big goal that you set and achieved? How long did it take and what kept you on track to accomplish it? Hit “comment” and share your story. I’d love to hear about how you’ve been able to achieve your bigger life goals and what’s helped you do it.


  1. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/january/how-willpower-works
  2. https://www.apa.org/topics/willpower-conclusion.pdf

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