Sunday, November 8, 2009

Working Up To Willpower

A lot of my interest is focused on willpower.

You can do a lot with willpower. But of course there are things you can't do, things that would be physically impossible, like running a five second mile. And things that, they say, you can't do, because of various chemical dependency reasons. You can do a lot but of course reality limits us.

Just because you can't do some things with willpower doesn't mean you can't do plenty. And that's where my interest lies. I want to know what I can do and what I can't do. It certainly seems to me that if it's within the realm of reality and it's something I really want to do, that something within me can get the job done.

I will to do things, then I do them. Like that.

But not everyone has willpower equally, it seems. Or perhaps we just don't know we could have it and do have the potential for it. Or perhaps we're weak through various habits, ruts we're in, so we're at the bottom rung of willpower instead of up the ladder somewhere in a respectable place.

You can work up to willpower, though. That's a key truth. Just because you think you don't have it doesn't mean you can't get it. To bring forth the potential could very well be simply a matter of working up to it, proving the potential all along. You might surprise yourself by what all you can do. And having surprised yourself with the small things -- the small exercises of willpower -- you can really surprise yourself by gigantic strides later on.

Let's say I haven't got any willpower. What kind of exercises might I try to show not only that I do have it, but that I can incrementally increase it as I go along?

I would suggest trying some of these very simple, very basic things. If you can master these -- give them a try -- then maybe you can achieve wonderful things in life, things that before were only fantasies, things in your dreams.

Exercise: Sit at a table. Put your hands on the table. Take a couple deep breaths and try to center your thoughts. You are going to will it now, that you are able to raise your right hand off the table and hold it in midair for three seconds. If you're set, go! Steady there. Hold it, 1-2-3, OK lower it. If you're ready, try it again. If you couldn't do it, don't worry. We'll try it a few times. Repeat the process. Did you do it? Good for you! If not, take a break and congratulate yourself on having given it a super try.

Exercise: Using nothing but the desire and willpower that you have, get up from the chair you're currently in, stand there for a while (let's go 10 seconds), then sit down again. All right, go! Some of you aren't up yet. You're shifting in the chair like you're helpless. Give it a try. OK, some of you are up. You're on two feet. Very good. Some you, this wasn't any trouble for. Just a few seconds to go, and ... down. Very good for everyone. A few of you didn't make it. But I'm giving out A's for effort today. You'll get it next time.

That's enough for today. Just let me encourage you. You can work up to willpower. There are things that you can do simply because you put your mind to it. Then your body follows. Try these again, especially if you didn't get it. For those who were very quick, perhaps look around and think of something that might stretch you. Something I would recommend would be not just to stand in one place for 10 seconds, but perhaps walk around the room (don't get dizzy), then return to your place. Feeling the slightest bit insecure from being untethered to the chair is a natural response. It will come in handy when we start stressing the independence that goes with willpower. That will come.

OK, you all put forth a terrific effort. Kudos all around. Hit the showers, if you're able.

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