Although more Christians have been martyred in the past 100 years than in the first 2000 years of the Church, chances are most of here in North America will not need the courage required for being burned at the stake for the Faith. However, sometimes the simple things in life need a tremendous amount of courage—like resisting bad influences and peer pressure, not complaining, eating foods we don’t like, learning to say no, and even just getting out of bed in the morning. Or making the choice of doing our daily duty first before we engage in various forms of entertainment. Even just blessing ourselves and saying grace at a public restaurant can be embarrassing for a pre-teen. THAT requires a tremendous amount of courage for some children!
The opposites we must be on guard for are recklessness and haste, or apathy and indifference. Prudence is required!
Here’s another great article from Art of Manliness that addresses Willpower.
Regrets and resolutions. What do they have in common? Willpower. A lack of and a need for.
But what is willpower anyway? You’ve heard the term before, but it probably seems like an awfully abstract force. You might feel as those it’s something innate, and that some men were born with a larger portion of it than others. It’s something you likely wish you had more of yourself, but don’t have any idea of how to go about it.
Happily, the truth is that willpower is a very real energy–a power source that can be depleted, strengthened, and conserved. And the man who learns how to tap into this fuel and harness his willpower gains some of the most vital knowledge one can possess: how to make of himself and his life anything he wants them to be.
Okay, so the strength of your willpower is incredibly important. But to return to the question posed in the introduction…what exactly is willpower anyway?
Essentially, it is a mental energy that allows you to direct your actions in four categories of behavior:
- Thoughts. Don’t think about a white bear! You just thought about a white bear, didn’t you? Willpower helps you focus on what you want to think about, by keeping unwelcome and intrusive thoughts at bay.
- Emotions. You can’t will yourself to feel happy or sad. But you can decide to take actions to change how you’re feeling—“I feel down. I’m going to go for a run—that always lifts my spirits.” And when you put up a front and fake an emotion, like being the rock for someone else when you feel like falling apart yourself, that takes willpower too.
- Impulses. Impulses are things like: “I want to eat that piece of cake.” “I want to punch that guy.” “I want to check my email instead of working.” While there are ways to minimize the number of impulses like this you get, you don’t have direct control over whether they pop into your head. But willpower does help you regulate how you react to the impulse. Will you ignore it or give in?
- Performance control. This deals with how well you can focus and concentrate on a task, how long you stick with something before giving up, how much effort you expend during different phases of an exercise or task, how well you manage your time, etc.
While willpower regulates all these different categories of potential and actual actions, it’s the same supply of willpower that deals with all of them—you don’t have one willpower supply for emotions and one for performance control.