Everybody taking part in Week 2 of Yoga Journal's Boost Your Willpower? Yes? No?
Week 1, I'm sure you all recall, was about choosing a focus, as in choosing what aspect of your life you want to improve your willpower for, what you need the willpower to achieve. Think of it as a goal. I chose staying on task.
Week 2, was about making a commitment to that focus and choosing one small thing to do to do that will remind you of your focus/goal. In the daily e-mails, I found three things of particular interest.
1. Meditation. Again, we discussed using meditation for concentration a year ago. One of the Boost Your Willpower e-mails indicated that there is science to back up the use of meditation as a way to improve self-control skills such as "attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness." Meditation, it claims, is like exercise for the brain.
I am not successful at meditation and have so many "practice" type things I do each day that it's too stressful to try to add another one. However, one of those practices is yoga, and I have just recently started extending my home practice because I haven't been holding poses long enough to build up strength and endurance. Holding the poses longer requires me to be careful about counting breathing. The mindfulness I have to practice in order to maintain breathing may be as close to meditation as I'll be able to get.
2. Recognizing that we actually do use willpower regularly. Those of us who are interested in improving our willpower and self-discipline tend to believe we need to do that because we don't have much. However, we're making decisions each day that involve exerting our will. Doing a brief recapitulation at the end of the day (a unit of time!) can assure us that we are, indeed, exerting some willpower and lead us to build upon it.
3. "I will" instead of "I won't." As I've said before, a lot of willpower and discipline writing involves changing behavior we don't want to engage in (overeating, gambling, drinking, procrastinating, etc.) and not changing behavior we want to do more of or even just developing some vaguely defined thing called discipline. The Boost Your Willpower folks suggest that always thinking in terms of "I won't" keeps calling the behavior you don't want to do to mind, and dwelling on what you don't want to do can often lead to no good. They suggest looking for "I will" statements.
Writers who are trying to develop self-discipline are trying to do something, they're not trying to not do something. So "I will" statements are particularly useful for us because they tell us what we're trying to do. For example:
I will plan next week's work.
I will plan my day around the unit system.
I will use transitional time.
So there you have three ideas for improving willpower. Two more weeks to go on this program. I'm hoping that just persevering and sticking with it for a month will do something for my self-discipline.