Willpower and self discipline play a major factor in everyone's life, leading to success, if you possess them, or to failure, if you lack them. These two skills are vital ingredients for handling efficiently any task and for achieving any goal. You can change this behaviour when you develop self discipline and willpower. Let's examine these skills.
Willpower and self discipline play a major factor in everyone's life, leading to success, if you possess them, or to failure, if you lack them. These two skills are vital ingredients for handling efficiently any task and for achieving any goal.
You can change this behaviour when you develop self discipline and willpower. Let's examine these skills.
• The ability to control or reject unnecessary or harmful impulses.
• The ability to arrive at a decision and follow it with perseverance, until its successful accomplishment.
• It is the inner strength that enables you to refuse to indulge in unnecessary and useless habits.
• It is inner power that enables you to overcome inner and external resistance and obstacles.
• It is the antidote to laziness and procrastination.
• It is the companion of willpower. It gives you the stamina to persevere with whatever you do.
• It is the strength to withstand physical, emotional and mental hardships and difficulties.
• It stands for perseverance and tenacity.
• It is the ability to reject immediate satisfaction, pleasure or comfort, in order to gain something better, even if it requires effort and time to gain.
When your willpower and self discipline are strong, you have the option to choose your reactions, and the option to change negative habits. These skills make you feel more powerful, confident, and in charge of yourself.
There is a misconception in the public mind regarding willpower and self discipline. It is erroneously believed that their development requires a lot of mental and physical strain and effort. This is not true. You can build up these skills through simple exercises, and even enjoy the process.
Ways to strengthen Willpower and Self Discipline
A simple and effective technique to strengthen these abilities is to do things, which you would rather avoid doing, due to laziness, procrastination, lack of assertiveness, shyness, or other reasons.
By carrying out such actions, in spite of your inner resistance and reluctance, you become stronger. As muscles get stronger by resisting the weight of barbells, so these skills are strengthened by overcoming inner resistance.
These are very simple exercises, which everyone can practise. Remember, the purpose of the exercises is to develop inner strength, not to make life difficult for you.
If you practise weight lifting, running or aerobics, you strengthen your muscles, and therefore, you can use your physical strength whenever you need it.
It is the same with willpower and self discipline. When you strengthen them, you make them available for use, whenever you need them. They give you more control over your life, help you change and improve habits, and are essential for personal and spiritual growth and for achieving success.
The yogic practice of self-discipline is called Tapas and is one of Patanjali’s five niyamas, the personal observances that create the foundation of yoga. Basically, Tapas is doing something you do not want to do or not doing something you want to do and will have a positive effect on one’s life. Tapas should be something simple and small enough to become successful but should also be difficult and challenging enough to engage the will.
When our will conflicts with the desire of our mind, an internal “fire” is created which illuminates and burns up our mental and physical impurities. This inner fire can also be used as a source of spiritual energy; the yogis say that the sole practice of Tapas can lead to the release of kundalini and attainment of enlightenment.
The practice of Tapas in the Bhagavad-Gita (17:14) is broken down into three realms: body, speech and mind. In the body, the practice of Tapas involves creating purity, chastity, honesty, non-violence and worship. Using speech involves using kind, truthful and beneficial words. Practicing Tapas in our minds involves using gentleness, silence, compassion and self-restraint.
Tapas is practised as an act of devotion and must be selfless and egoless. Tapas transforms and purifies us and enables the conscious awareness and controls the unconscious impulses and poor behaviour. Tapas builds will power and personal strength that helps us become more dedicated to our practice of yoga.
Tapas is a tool for transformation and should be approached with an attitude of passion and zeal rather than of self-denial and chastisement. “Genuine Tapas makes us shine like the sun and then we can be a source of warmth and strength for others” says George Feuerstein.
Self Discipline exercise
1. You are sitting in a bus or train and an old man or woman, or a pregnant lady walks in. Stand up and give up your seat, even if you prefer to stay seated. Act so, not just because it is polite, but because you are doing something that you are reluctant to do. This is an exercise in overcoming the resistance of your body, mind and feelings.
2. There are dishes in the sink that need washing, and you postpone washing them for later. Get up and wash them now. Do not let laziness control you. When you know that in this way, you are actually strengthening yourself, it becomes easier to take immediate action, despite laziness and the desire to procrastinate.
3. You come home from work and sit in front of the T.V., because you feel too lazy and too tired to take a shower first. Do not succumb to the desire to sit in front of the T.V, and go take a shower immediately.
4. Do you like your coffee with sugar? If you do, then for one whole week drink it without sugar. Do you drink three cups of coffee each day? If you do, then drink only two cups a day for one whole week.
5. Do you, like many others, like to read some unimportant gossip in the newspaper or magazine? Then, for one whole week, abstain from doing so. This might not be easy, but it's good for your training. I am not telling you to do so indefinitely, but for only one week.
6. If you have the choice of going up with the elevator or climbing the stairs, choose climbing the stairs. However, climb the stairs only if it's not a high storey, and you are in good physical condition.