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See Inside June/July 2007

Fuel for Thought

Day after day an overbearing colleague grates on your nerves. It’s a battle to keep your irritation under wraps. Suddenly, during a particularly long encounter, you snap—you lose your temper and give your shocked co-worker a piece of your mind.

Most of us blame ourselves for such lapses in willpower, but new research suggests that willpower may not be available in an unlimited supply. Scientists have discovered that a single, brief act of self-control expends some of the body’s fuel, which undermines the brain’s ability to exert further self-discipline.

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