Today I am talking about willpower and I call it ‘a killer concept’. What do you think? Is it positive or negative?
People say “You lack willpower, that’s why you cannot change anything in your life”. Many big achievers know what willpower is. They know how to use willpower in their daily life. They have trained willpower. But there’s a lot of things that show that the concept of willpower has a back side. This back side can be awful and taxing for people’s ability to sense their own bodies. It’s called sensitivity.
Often when well-trained people exert themselves using their willpower, they lack something. What they lack is sensitivity. When you are strong enough in your psyche, you tend to overhear and not act upon the signals your body is sending. Often, it’s also a lack of ability in social relationships to be empathic.
But there’s something that I think we can use instead of willpower. We can train using Kaizen process philosophy. Kaizen gives us the ability to achieve great goals and to evolve without using willpower. Kaizen is an intelligent setup using small steps every single day. You create a setup that allows you to train whatever you want to do – but enabling the joy of action as a prerequisite. It makes a big difference. Now, let’s talk about energy because willpower has something to do with energy.
Roy Baumeister wrote a bestseller book called Willpower. It’s a big book and I have it in the audio version on Audible. What I understood from this book, the essence of it, is the source of willpower. It says that willpower is energy consuming. It consumes energy from the same energy pool that our three main energy systems are using as the source. These three systems are mental energy, physical energy and the energy for immunity.
Using willpower, we have less energy available for immunity, mental resources, and physical movement. I know this sounds controversial, but it’s an interesting thought. So what I think we need to do is not use willpower. We need to understand how it works and instead use something called ‘inspiration’. Inspiration and joy are both interconnected and interdependent. So you don’t have to use willpower. And if you want results, you will be able to achieve big results. But the most crucial thing is that you will be able to build a strong process. And this process will after time lead you to all the results you want to achieve.
If we use process- and not the goal-oriented way of thinking, we can call it ‘vision’. Instead of calling it ‘result’. If we use a process and not the task oriented way of thinking and we want to build a strong process, we can call it a vision
So instead of having a “live stream” of tasks, full of targets we need to make a transition. Because if we work with targets and tasks, we often need to use real power. To be free from using real power we need to make this transition.
The inspiration will lead us in the direction we want to go. This will ensure that we will do the things that we need every day without using willpower. So there is no strain there is only joy of doing something you cannot do without.
I don’t use willpower a lot. I understood that my willpower is weak so instead I chose many years ago to just do what I love. I love playing musical instruments. I was always open to play different musical instruments that I could play as a professional. Double bass on a high level, piano, jazz piano, guitar are just examples.
I always hated running, jogging. I’m not a runner. For me it was always connected with running to time, running on speed and running on distance. It’s like if you lift weights then you have to do a certain number of repetitions. it’s always the thing that you are measuring your process with. Or, I would say it’s target oriented work. I hated it! I didn’t enjoy it because it was always connected with some negative things.
Recently, I found out about forefoot running. I made a lot of mistakes in my own way of doing physical exercise and I had a lot of problems. I learnt a lot about this from my mistakes. So when I started using forefoot running, I changed my way of measurement. I stopped measuring the distance, the speed, the number of hours, the time. I stopped measuring the repetitions.
Instead, I decided that I would start with small movements. Because I was afraid. I had heard a lot of stories that people using forefoot running over exert. They create a lot of problems for their feet. They always stop practicing perfect running. They over strain all the small intrinsic muscles in their feet. We have strong, external muscles in the whole body. We also have some called intrinsic muscles. That’s the internal muscles which have to be in balance. When you work your external muscles you will end up with big imbalance problems. You will end up with something called “overcompensation”.
Overcompensation always result in a disease. A lifestyle disease. That is why many people that are pumping their external muscles end up in a bad state. So, what I decided was that I would run at a slow pace. I would run a little bit faster than my walking speed, and I would do that for many months.
You know what? When I started doing the exercise at low intensity, I found out that I didn’t need to use my willpower. Why? Because I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed what I was doing. This was a powerful driver.
I bought these shoes – I’ll show you – these are Vibram shoes. It is 0° C right now, but I use the summer version of the shoes. Now I always jog with these shoes. I go out jogging every day in the woods here in Denmark. It’s nice and every time i look forward to go out and jump because I enjoy the nature.
It’s beautiful nature here. I enjoy the landscape. That’s the forest lake. So every time I get an idea: “Oh now I have two hours free from my clients, free from teaching”. Three hours today! I go out and jog about 10 kilometers or more, at a slow pace.
I never measure the distance. I just measure the level of my enjoyment. This is this is a powerful thing. Instead of measuring the results, measuring the level of the enjoyment. Wow! That’s the true process! That’s a sustainable thing! This process is something strong because you enjoy it. Nobody is standing there and saying to you, you with a bad conscious and things like that. “You need to do this because you took on a New Year’s resolution”. No new year’s resolution! Just an easy process with lots of enjoyment.
When you open up to this kind of processes that are natural, you learn a lot. You open up. You learn to open up and say, “Okay, it’s it’s not it’s not about the results. I don’t care about the results”. That’s the real paradigm shift. That’s the real change. What I want is to enjoy my life. I want to do something that gives me joy. This is a powerful shift. When you establish this process by just doing it every day, showing up every day then you have achieved a lot.
What I’m talking about is opening up. You see when you open up. When you don’t have any resistance. When you don’t need to push yourself. When you don’t need to force yourself to do anything. When you don’t need to motivate yourself. Such as by some external motivational things, like a career. Or to achieve something like that.
Instead, you’re using the inspiration. You have a little fire that is burning within. This is a powerful thing. When you have this inspirational fire burning within you, you open up for learning. You open up to pay attention to all the beautiful moments that fill your life. You can use all these beautiful moments to learn. To help you build up your process. When you are target oriented you often see these things, but you are are prone to say, “no”. Because you don’t have time.
You want to reach those targets and that’s a big difference. This is the process of opening you up by using all your senses. All your experience that you always have a lot of, because we all have already lived our lives for many years. We have a lot of experience. The thing is, we have to use this experience for something. The more we use it, the better it is for us. For our process, the better it is for our environment because we also inspire our environment. This is a strong thing.
That was about the power of the process and the power of joy. When you do something that’s the joy that drives you forward. We call it the kaizen technique, kaizen philosophy of life. Instead of using willpower which is taxing then you have an alternative. That’s not funny if you don’t have willpower. It is to set up a process that is smart. The process that will not tax you for energy. The process that will build your resilience up. That’s what we call the smart setup.
We call it kaizen, too. That’s the name I’m using in my courses. Helping my clients, one-to-one clients, to build up their own setup, their process. It’s possible actually and not everybody has willpower. So if you thought that you lack willpower and that’s why you are not able to achieve what you want in your life. That’s wrong, that’s a misunderstanding – you don’t need willpower. You just need to be smart and start doing small things in your life that activates your joy. That’s why you can do them every single day. They will lead you places that are nice places to be. Places that you never knew existed.
That’s about opening up. When you open up, you you get surprised because life is smiling with you. You also become stronger. Not with your willpower, but just stronger. Because when you build your resilience, you do the daily process. You build up your resilience – mental resilience, physical resilience, and immune resilience.
There are a lot of good details about that but that’s what I wanted to inspire with you today. That is willpower is a killer concept and killer here is not a positive word. It is a negative word because willpower, or the lack of willpower. Because people think “willpower” by indoctrination. When they don’t have willpower, they lay down arms and they say, okay I’m not good at this. This is a killer! It’s not good for your life. It’s not good for the process.
Another part of it is that those who have a lot of willpower often over use it. They close the sensitivity. They stop the sensitivity and this is a big problem. When you are not sensitive enough but you have a lot of willpower. Well, it’s an imbalance. Did you ever think about this? If not, then consider this: You don’t need willpower. You just need to set up a smart process that you execute every single day. Just because of the simple fact that you love it, will always generate joy. It will always bring you somewhere. Just like when I using my forefoot running in this beautiful forest.
My burning interest in human physiology is rooted in far-different areas of expertise such as martial arts, music and long professional career. My core competency lies in the combination of physiological knowledge regarding stress mechanisms and their close relationship with respiration, muscular tension and body balance.
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