Willpower. It’s something we often want more of every day. What if I told you that you already had all the willpower you need?
You don’t need more. You need it to be better. Stronger. More adaptable.
Willpower is much like a muscle. If you get some exercise on a regular basis and do some strength training here and there, then it will be healthy. You could do strength training every day with your willpower and have it be incredibly strong.
Or you could do nothing and watch your willpower wither away.
I’ve found that the best exercise for willpower just happens to be meditation. Although the benefits are numerous, here are the most common benefits that virtually everyone will experience.
#1. Meditation lets you focus outside of the addiction. Today’s society has an addiction: immediate gratification. We want things now, not later, because we think it will make us happy right now. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. But then we have to keep repeating the need to get something because that is what is making us happy. With meditation, I’ve found it is a lot easier to separate the ideas of “wants” from “needs.”
You “want” a 50-inch television. You “need” bread in your pantry. Meditation gives us all the power to recognize the difference.
#2. Meditation activates the same brain centers. When was the last time you avoided a temptation? Let’s say you decided to not order dessert as an example. The same portion of your brain that is activated by the decision to avoid temptation will also activate when you meditate.
#3. Meditation helps people to feel good. When we buy stuff, take drugs, or do plenty of other things that cause addictions, the brain releases endorphins and dopamine. It’s what helps us feel “good” when we’re making decisions that may not be so good. Meditation does the same thing, but in a healthy way. It allows you to reduce the stress response in the body, which is called cortisol.
Higher levels of cortisol equate to lower levels of willpower. And vice-versa.
#4. Meditation helps to eliminate anxiety. When you don’t get the right amount of sleep at night, what’s the first thought that goes through your head? For me, it is some version of this: How will I ever make it through this day?
That question is a representation of anxiety. I’m worried about not being able to stay awake. This causes decisions to be made based off of physical and mental urges or cravings more often. I might drink 1-2 cups more coffee. I might eat a triple cheeseburger. I might think a couple of energy drinks seem like a viable option.
Meditation lets me know that those options aren’t as good as the urge might seem. This is because it can eliminate the anxiety so that the focus can be on the willpower instead of the want.
There are many ways to embrace meditation. Music, natural sounds, quiet rooms, showers, while lying in bed in the morning – meditation works because it can be done almost everywhere. That also means you have numerous opportunities to exercise your willpower every day.
Get strong. Stay strong. Focus on quality, not quantity, and you’ll feel your willpower improve.
How do you exercise your willpower? I’d love to hear about the ways you keep your own willpower strong.