Ask Stanford Med about self-control

Past data suggest that four out of five people who adopt New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them, and that a third will throw in the towel before the end of January. The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, willpower is not a trait that you’re either born with or without.

As Stanford health psychologist KELLY MCGONIGAL explained in her book The Science of Willpower, self-control is a complex mind-body response that can be compromised by stress, sleep deprivation and nutrition, and it can be strengthened through certain practices. In her book, McGonigal discusses why willpower is not an unlimited resource, how the brain can be trained for greater self-discipline, and how we use past good behavior to justify indulgences. She also provides other insights on self-control from psychology, economics, neuroscience and medicine.

To help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions and break bad habits, we’ve asked McGonigal to respond to your questions about the latest research on willpower and about ways to increase your self-discipline. Questions can be submitted to McGonigal by sending a tweet that includes the hashtag #AskSUMed or posting your question in the comments section of the SCOPE blog post. Questions will be collected until Friday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Read LIA STEAKLEY‘s full post on the  Medical School’s SCOPE blog.