Could you boost willpower with The Chocolate Machine?

A German inventor has come up with a handful of interesting gadgets to help break habits and strengthen your resolve.


Willpower woman turning away from chocolate

Photo, iStock.

Our lives are so routine that it’s fair to say that most of our day breaks down into the performance of good habits (working, being kind, helping others) and bad habits (eating too much, watching too much TV, losing it during rush hour traffic). Self-improvers that we are at heart, we spend a lot of time trying to shore up our good habits and break our bad ones.

Part of the problem with breaking a bad habit is the fact that the act of breaking the habit is seriously un-fun when compared to the pleasure inherent in indulging the habit. For chocolate addicts like me, eating a Twix bar is so much more enjoyable than standing outside my local convenience store and willing myself to walk away empty-handed.

But that may be changing just a little bit, suggests an article in Fast Company about a plucky German inventor. Prompted by a desire to help people break troublesome habits like eating too much chocolate, German doctoral student Matthias Laschke decided to invent a handful of helpful habit-breaking gadgets. One of his gadgets is called The Chocolate Machine. The device, which sits on a desk or table works kind of like a game. Every so often the device dispenses a chocolate ball, which you can decide to eat or to pop back into the dispenser. Put it back in the dispenser and you get a little point, which is registered on a counter.

While you may not think getting a point can duplicate the pleasure of eating a luscious chocolate treat, research suggests there is some benefit to the exercise. Laschke created the device after looking at studies that suggest willpower can be strengthened through application — i.e. the more you do it, the stronger your willpower gets.

Laschke also created similar gadgets to help people reduce their water consumption (The Shower Calendar) and reduce energy costs (The Forget Me Not reading lamp), among others.

The devices aren’t available to purchase yet, sadly. But savvy DIYers may be inspired to cook up their own “pleasurable troublemakers” to help them overcome some of their toughest bad habits. Conversely, they may decide to enjoy them until Laschke is able to raise the money to put his habit-breakers into production.