I love to meditate. The process helps me to figure out my day, plan for uncertain situations, and give myself confidence to face the unexpected. I can label thoughts, sort emotions, and handle stress effectively because I’ve taken time for myself.
The only problem is that I don’t always love the process that is required to get myself into my meditation zone. I might be running late for work. Or there might be a TV show on that I want to watch. I might be hungry. Summoning the strength to actually meditate tends to be more difficult than actually meditating.
Here’s how I work on improving the strength of my willpower so that I can enjoy the process of meditating that I love so much.
#1. Getting enough sleep every night is important.
Whenever I get about 5 hours of sleep or less, my decision-making skills go out the window. I eat snacks I shouldn’t and I don’t care about the consequences. My attitude tends to be one of anger first if something doesn’t go my way. Should I meditate? Of course I should – but that cheesecake at the store looks so good…
Without enough sleep, there isn’t enough impulse control. This means you’re tempted to do things you normally wouldn’t do because the fatigue you carry in your body drains you of energy. Instead of long-term goals, you’re focused on short-term survival. So when I get enough sleep, I noticed a dramatic reduction of the cravings that can tempt me away from meditating.
#2. Be willing to forgive yourself.
Not every meditation opportunity goes perfectly. There are times when I focus on the neighbor grilling hamburgers more than the stressful issues I’m facing. Or maybe my leg falls asleep and all I can focus on are those pins and needles. If I can forgive myself for not being perfect, I find that it is a lot easier to reach my daily goals.
It doesn’t take long for meditation to be effective. I shoot for 90 minutes each day, but 10 minutes can be good enough. If you aren’t meditating right now, I would highly encourage you to give it a try. It was very difficult for me to forgive myself of my failures when meditation wasn’t part of my life.
#3. Get outside and take a walk.
I’ve found that my self-control increases exponentially when I can find time to exercise. Whether it’s a walk around the park or 60 minutes on a treadmill, every little bit counts to strengthen my willpower. What’s great about exercise is that the strengthening process is also contagious. When you feel strong, you want to work on becoming stronger.
#4. A good input is required for a good output.
There’s this old song I was taught growing up that goes something like this: “Input. Output. What goes in is what comes out.”
When it comes to my dietary choices, that is very true. If I eat junk food, I get junk results from my willpower. If I take care of myself by eating healthy items, even if I’m craving Skittles like mad crazy, then my willpower is stronger because I’ve made a stronger eating choice.
By avoiding caffeine and sugar spikes, I can avoid the crashes that come which can demotivate me to meditate.
Finding ways to increase the strength of your willpower might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Something as simple as getting a little exercise each day and substituting one sugary item for a healthy one can give you the energy that is needed.
What are your strategies for keeping your willpower strong? I’d love to hear about what you’ve discovered that has made a difference in your life.