The willpower has many faces such as determination, self-discipline, drive, or self-control. Тhe willpower can be defined as the ability to resist the short-term temptations in order to meet the long-term goals. And this can only happen when our cognitive mind overrides our unwanted emotions, thoughts, or the impulses of our unconscious mind.
In children as well as adults, the willpower can be described of as their ability to delay gratification. The American psychologist Walter Mischel, PhD proposed so called “hot-and-cool” system to explain why sometimes our willpower succeeds and why sometimes it fails.
The cool system is our cognitive conscious mind. It’s a rational thinking system, that incorporates our knowledge, logic, and reasoning.
The hot system stands for our impulsive and emotional unconscious mind. Our hot system is accountable for the quick, reflexive responses to certain triggers without considering the long-term consequences. When exposed to a “hot” tempting stimulus, the hot emotional system overrides our rational cool system, our willpower collapses, and we do what we usually do even if we don’t want to.
However, some people are more susceptible to tempting triggers and others are less susceptible. Naturally the susceptibility to emotional triggers reflects on people’s behavior and attitude in life. Imagine it as if you have a “cool angel” on one shoulder and a “hot devil” on the other. The first one is responsible for your self-discipline and the other is leading you to impulsive actions.
Now ask yourself, which system of yours controls the most choices in your life?
When brain activity was examined, it turned out that the brain patterns of individuals with low self-control differed from those with high self-control. In subjects with higher willpower the region that controls executive functions, such as making choices, was more active. And in those with lower willpower the region processing desires and rewards displayed boosted activity.
Also keep in mind that according to doctor Mischel people with more willpower better handle stress, maintain self-control in difficult situations, concentrate better, and score higher on their exams.
So, it turns out to be cool to have willpower, right?