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Will and Power


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What is will? | Strengthening the will | So what?


What is will?

We talk about 'will and 'will power', but what is it?

Will as consciousness

Will is about consciously choosing something. It is a thoughtful act. The act of conscious will is often in contradiction to subconsciously-driven urges, such as the addictive need to smoke.

Free will

Free will is the principle that everyone has the potential to make their own decisions and believe whatever they wish, no matter what state of subjugation they are in or what little other power they have.

Will as motivation

Individual will implies motivation. A person with strong self-will can do things that in other ways they do not want to do, for example giving up smoking. It is about determination, persevering in the face of adversity.

Will as domination

When two people argue or differ in some way, in particular when one is seeking to control another, then will appears as a conflict, whereby the person with the greatest will-power wins (for example getting the other to change or refusing to change).

This is often talked about as a 'battle of wills' and may be compared with the internal battle of will as individual motivation.

Strengthening the will

Will is conscious choice. True, some people find it more easy to be determined than others, yet it is still possible to increase your will-power.

Treat your body well

Research has linked blood glucose to self-control. Levels of this is related to diet and times of the day, so eat well and notice when you are tired and more energetic. Use things like energy drinks to boost your glucose when you want to be more wilful.

Research has also shown that meditation helps develop the parts of the brain that deal with decision-making and confidence.

Enhance self-esteem

The place to start is inside. Understand what you think about yourself. Know that you are equal under the heavens to all other people. Respect yourself in the way that all people deserve.

Find ways to show yourself that you are worthy. Even great people need to know this. Do small things and bigger things, from meditation to helping others. Find ways just to be happy.

Practice on yourself

Practice using will power. Think positively. You may want to begin with yourself. Decide to do something or not do something and then doggedly stick to it. Make it small, for example going to bed or getting up at certain times. Start easy and move on up. When you are going to procrastinate, pause and act now. Laugh and feel good immediately.

If you are trying to avoid something, it can be helpful to find some distraction. If you are seeking to give up smoking, put the packet away. Better: do not buy cigarettes in the fist place. A great exercise is to open the packet and break them all into little pieces.

Practice on others

Then move on to other people. Start small, for example in training the dog or by asking people for small things. Feel good whenever it works and ignore it when it does not. Persist in this.

Gradually ask for bigger things and do not give in easily. Make bolder demands rather than timid requests. Enjoy each challenge as it comes along.

So what?

To develop your will-power, work on yourself first and then practice, practice. With success, your confidence will grow. And do remember to focus on success -- it is a trap to take failure as evidence that you can never succeed. You only fail when you stop, and you can always persist.

See also

Willpower, Motivation, Ways to Happiness


Gailliot, M.T. (2007). The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control, Personality and Social Psychology Review. 11, 4, 303-327

Nietzsche, F. (1901). The Will to Power


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