Everybody wants to live a good life. As we mature, we begin to understand the things that we need to do in order to achieve our goals. In reality, how much we know is not the only or even biggest determinant of the results in our lives. We know that in order to get the results we desire, we must do certain things that will get us there. However, to be an achiever takes a lot of work, and we often succumb to circumstances that determine our reality for us.
For example, regardless of knowing that exercising brings many health benefits and to our lives in general, many of us still refuse to exercise. Even if we know that putting in the time and being dedicated to working towards our fitness goals will eventually lead us to achieve them, many of us still remain inactive. To be successful means work, therefore it's easier to choose the easy path! Being successful will entail us going against what is easy, and choosing to do things that may be hard, albeit rewarding in the longer term.
Willpower – An Inner Strength
A specific biological instinct that evolved to help us get ahead of our inclination for inaction, and overcoming the human tendency to evade discomfort and difficulty is called willpower. Willpower is our inner strength, empowering us to choose to do now, what is beneficial for us in the long term.
Willpower is defined as the ability to delay gratification and resist short-term pleasures for the benefit of long-term wins. It allows us to have self-control for our own benefit, including the choices we make that will be key to every good thing that we want out of life.
Whatever goals we're set to achieve are determined mainly by the actions that we do, not on what we know. Willpower drives us towards positive action; action determines results. Willpower is all about doing things that need to be done.
Aspects of willpower are self-control, self-discipline, drive, and determination. These things play a massive role when it comes to improving our lives, and in leading successful and valuable lives, overall.
We know that nothing worth having in life comes very easy, but with greater willpower, so much more is possible. Be familiar with the natural inner strength that you possess and can cultivate at any time for your own benefit.
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Willpower is Not an Inborn Trait, or Something You Lack
If willpower is so important in our lives that the lack of it may signal problems in our day to day activities, it would be a relief to know that willpower or self-control is not an inborn quality, nor something that you may be unlucky not to have enough of.
This inner strength is a complex mind-body response to a particular internal conflict. The inner conflict is simply yet another primitive survival behavior – that of doing as little as possible to minimize energy expenditure.
For example, you are aware that you're getting fat and need to start hitting the gym or eating right to maintain good health, but you find it rather difficult to do what you know you should do. Willpower kicks in by sending out extra energy to your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for making decisions that are aligned to our internal goals. As a result, a strong drive to do what matters most overrides your natural to take the easy, lazy path.
Willpower is A Limited Resource
Willpower is like a superpower that enables us to fight off cravings, tiredness, and temptations, but it is a limited resource just like a car's fuel that could run out or is capable of being depleted. This inner strength can either shrink or expand and, like a muscle, could get fatigued with too much use. Our brains are made up of two polarizing thought systems; one is the emotional and impulsive one, and the other is the cool and level-headed one.
Willpower guides the latter and enables us to resist and say no to acting upon every whim, especially when it is not good for us. But it can only say no too many times, especially when we've maxed out on resisting too many temptations or made far too many choices in a day. Willpower also weakens the more tired and stressed we are.
The good news is, there are effective ways to increase our willpower and one of which is simply training your brain to become more aware and to pay attention. Instead of giving up and succumbing to temptation, take a pause, and make a conscious choice to do what you need to do, rather than acting on autopilot on what feels good at the moment.