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How to Operate Independently Of Willpower

Updated: Mar 7

A ghost worrier

Unfortunately, we are not machines that can do anything as long as we are able to. We are partially confined to our emotional and mental energies, although they can be partially surpassed with enough training and discipline. However, pushing ourselves too hard can take a toll on our health.

If we were automatic machines with no need to recharge beyond nutrition and fluids, we would create supreme industries and maximize our production within our current and future roles in the machinery that is human civilization. We could do anything that an undesired organism would refuse to do, or at least would find it very hard to do because of lack of motivation and discipline.

If we didn’t need to rely on our willpower for our efforts, we could do anything that our bodies, minds, and machinery are physically or mentally capable of. Imagine what a world that would be! The following list is merely an ideal.

  • People wouldn't demand high salaries for jobs as a source of motivation (AKA greed, not necessarily something that's vital for survival)

  • People wouldn't need all the complex of social and romantic drama and excitement just to reproduce. (AKA lust and emotional instabilities)

  • People wouldn't suffer from addictions, because addictions rely on the person wanting to consume the addicting substance or action.

  • There would be no r***s because willpower is also existent in sexuality (AKA unwise temptations)

  • Laziness would be non-existent, because no willpower would make us feel good by being lazy or by procrastinating (AKA slothfulness)

  • People would be more physically healthy because they would only need to know the benefit of physical activity in order to become more fit and strong. (AKA, discipline and determination)

  • Candies, drugs, alcohol, addictive video games—they would serve no function because people would not need to fight against their willpower for the sake of their wellbeing. (AKA, wasteful addictions).

  • There would be no corruption, because corruption is based on temptation, which is one of the faces of willpower (Like taking a bribe and be caught).

  • Students would do their homework without complaining, if they realized the benefit of a good education (AKA, endurance).

What can we do if willpower is the fuel and engine that motivates us to do specific things and avoid other things, regardless of their nature?

Willpower is important because it serves as our primary motivation to commit some activities and discard the rest, and the more willpower we possess, the more motivated and, perhaps, successful, we would be by achieving said things. This also serves as a double-edged sword, because our willpower can be against our own good, like when it is abused by addicting substances such as alcohol.

The more we base our actions on mere willpower, AKA, on whether we like to do something or not, the more dependent we shall be on that willpower and its level of dominance on us, rather than relying on our knowledge and the benefits or the damage we commit and inflict on others or on ourselves, or both.

This is why I recommend not to heavily rely on willpower alone, because willpower is a temporary and a limited energy. Acting outside of it, allows us some more energy, even if far from infinite. It's part of what endurance is.

Knowledge and awareness are more beneficial to rely upon as our sources of actions because they are more solid and more convincing for the long-term. Convincing practically, of course. Practically. Likewise, work doesn't have to be a desired activity, but when we know it is imperative to our financial sustainability, that knowledge will indeed motivate us to work, even if we do not currently desire it.

Willpower is nothing more than a biochemical reaction that can change anytime, whatever the circumstances are, and it's not necessarily under our control, as we cannot force ourselves to do something we do not desire to do... Unless we act independently of our desires! It is therefore foolish to rely completely on willpower, like children do.

We should look at the bigger picture and view ourselves as more than the current emotion we are feeling. In other words, we should not do things primarily because we want to, but because we are aware of the benefits and the possible results of our actions. Because we have priorities and values of our own. Because our willpower can stand in our way, and not just support and motivate us, to do things that are benficial for us or our ambitions.

This is why, if possible and if it is a healthy choice, our actions should be motivated by knowledge and benefit, instead of mere momentary feeling, even though such feeling can indeed be immensely helpful if it exists within us when something is to be done.

So, it would be sensible to treat emotions not as our superior officers, but as our pawns.

In conclusion, even though we do not have infinite energy, it's logically possible to act outside of whatever our desire currently tells us to do or avoid. It is our choice as to obey it or otherwise.

Should we be stronger in spirit, the extant of our actions and potential will grow significantly. Some suffering might be required for that end, as suffering can make us more resilient beings. The problem with the pursuit of our desires comes when it weakens our resolve, and thus, our endevours. That's especially true, when we choose them over hardship (such as choosing unhealthy food, over committing to a physical training regime).

We need to make sure reluctancy does not get in the way, either. Especially if it stands in the way of attaining information that is actually useful for us and/or others. If desire hinders us, we should not obey it so blindly.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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