SUPERCHARGING YOUR WILLPOWER
#1: Take Command of Your Own Free Will
We’re all visiting here having the temporary, physical experience of living life as animals. We animals feel the pull of two powerful survival instincts: the instinct for food and the instinct for sex. These are not bad instincts… obviously, they are very necessary. But it’s clear – whether by glancing down at a bathroom scale or watching the never-ending stream of political scandals – that these two instincts, when left unchecked, can get us into trouble. There is a force within us, though, that can keep us out of trouble. That force is your willpower, or… your free will. Free will is defined as the power to act without fate as a constraint. Most of us humans have something other animals don’t have: a self-awareness that seeks to grow, improve, and become more. This is called conscious evolution, and it comes from choice. That choice, however, is often made in opposition to what we recognize as unhealthy desires. For example, as powerless as we might feel in the presence of a hot glazed donut, if we’re trying to lose weight, we have to take command of the desire to eat that donut (or at the very least, the desire to eat the whole box of donuts). When we have unconfronted desires like that running on autopilot – the kind that reach for donuts without even thinking – they rob us of our free will, which means we will continue to be slaves to our inner animal. And if that animal isn’t brought under control, it will addictively eat, drink, and drug us to an unsustainable place.
#2: Choose Growth
Making higher choices is the definition of personal growth… but that growth doesn’t come for free. Choosing a higher experience involves leaving a lower experience behind. This is tough because we become attached to our lower experiences… there’re familiar. This choosing, though, is when our free will shines. These are the moments of truth when we decide to trade lower, short-term gratification for higher, long-term joy and well-being. That choice - and the realization of its benefits - is what separates us from the mouse who uncontrollably rushes to the mouse trap that’s loaded with cheese. When we spot the trap, when we see the long-term cost of a short-term choice, we increase our capacity to choose differently… to choose higher; and when we increase our capacity, we increase our power… a power, for example, that will lead us down a path of vibrant longevity instead of down a path of constant and avoidable medical challenges. When you feel gripped by a craving, it’s a game-changer to just stop and take a few long, slow, deep breaths. This practice creates a brief but critical gap in your craving that often gives you just enough of a window to escape it.
#3: Watch Yourself Constantly
The willpower it takes to make higher choices doesn’t just spring up in the face of temptation. It comes from the homework of self-reflection that is done before the temptation even arrives. If you are serious about changing your behaviors, you must analyze your past choices and contemplate why you made those choices. Don’t settle for the topical, pleasure-centered reasons; rather, drill down to the real reasons... the subconscious reasons. For example, you may ask yourself what unfounded feelings of lack you are trying to mask with a box of donuts or a pack of cigarettes. Answering tough questions like that combined with remembering the unpleasant results of your past, questionable choices, is what leads to lasting personal change. But here’s a heads-up: at first, this isn’t going to be fun, and even doing the best you can do, you will inevitably fail. But each time you fail - because you are looking for it - you’ll see why you failed. You will also see how you set yourself up to fail. And that means you’ll begin the next day with a new and improved “best you can do.” As long as you don’t give up, you will absolutely get stronger and stronger. And your new life – a life inspired by your supercharged willpower – will get brighter and brighter.
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