Do we have enough information yet? If you want to lead a good and healthy life, you can find lots of information about how to do it. You can read self help books or listen to self-help tapes. You can search the Internet. You can go to lectures and workshops. You can take classes. You can even hire a counselor or a personal trainer.
So many of us continue to do things that we shouldn’t or avoid doing things we should. Lack of information is not the problem. Often the missing ingredient is lack of will. We’d like to quit smoking, lose weight, eat better and exercise more. Maybe we’d like to relax or meditate more regularly. Or study more or spend more time talking with friends and family. We may have some big and important project that we need to complete, but it just doesn’t happen.
What we are lacking is sufficient will to act.
Willing is the beginning of behaviour. It is the act of setting attention on goals and taking action to meet them. It is different from wishing. We can wish for a lot of things, but wishing doesn’t imply that we are going to do anything about it.
Sometimes it works. Often it does not.
When we exert our will, we make choices. For instance, right now you are probably breathing naturally without thinking about it. You haven’t exercised will in the matter. Your natural instincts tell you to breathe in and then out. You could choose to stop, for a short time, through an act of will. Or you could will yourself to touch your nose or stand up and stretch. You would be making a conscious decision to perform a behavior, and then you would begin to do it. That’s will.
Let us say you want to fight an addiction. You get started and are successful for three days. Then the MIND GAMES start . So you are going to feel the impulse to not follow through with your goal. When your will is strong, you follow through with your goal by inhibiting competing impulses.
The phrase, "Where there’s a will, there’s a way," is a cliché, but it suggests the truth that when we create our intention and direct our will, we must, seek alternate paths to accomplish our goals when obstacles appear.
Will involves tenacity.
It means we don’t give up at the first disappointment or difficulty.
A strong will perseveres.
Strength of will allows us to accomplish things, to become the person we hope to be. However, it is only useful if it is guided by wisdom. A strong willed fool makes a wonderful obstacle to progress, but they don’t accomplish anything worthwhile with foolish goals and values. We must learn to know ourselves. We must learn to discern good from bad, truth from fiction, and develop values based on valid principles.
Each action has a consequence. We live in a world of action and reaction, cause and effect. The energy we create by our action will come back to us one way or the other. If our actions are rooted in greed, anger, or other forms of attachment they will create more of the same in our experience. If our actions are rooted in compassion and unselfishness, we will experience more love.
How do you assess the character of your will?
Would you say you are a strong willed person, or not?
When or where have you had a failure of will?
What might you have done differently?
What is most important to you?
What are the standards of conduct that mean the most to you?
What do you most want to accomplish in this life?
What state of mind do you most treasure?
What do you most wish for?
Is it possible you could attain your wish?
What could you do to attain your wish or meet your goal?
What can you do right now to begin it?
What habits or impulses might get in the way of your goal?
What can you do to remind yourself to persevere ?
How can you exert your will ?