Willpower. It’s long been alleged that it’s something that you either have, or you don’t: a few blessed individuals are born with steely determination and indomitable spirits, while the rest of the unwashed masses are willowy, wishy-washy reeds in the wind who will break under the slightest prevarication!
Both of these theses are absolutely wrong. I’ve said it many times before, and I will undoubtedly say it again: when it comes to training, you can train a hell of a lot more than just your skeletal muscles. And as you could probably figure out, I believe willpower to be one of those attributes that can be trained.
A Few Notes On Willpower
The overall idea I will be conveying to you today is that willpower is, for all intents and purposes, a non-physical “muscle” that can be trained, just as the muscles of your legs and arms can be trained. And much like those corporeal muscles, willpower can be “depleted”—i.e., you can be made to be less willing to do difficult things and endure pain over the course of the day.
People in the past understood that this was something to be trained, but for whatever reason this knowledge was forgotten over time. Some (such as the Art of Manliness) believe that the rise of consumer culture and the whole “follow your bliss” ideal created a culture of people that “go with the flow” and feel that the very act of doing something you don’t want to do is “fascist.” Whether that is the case or not, one does have to acknowledge that people just seem a lot “flimsier” today—mentally and physically.
So now that we have already established that willpower is a “muscle” that can be trained, the overarching question is: what exercises can be done to train the willpower?
Willpower Training Exercises
To put it very simply, the only way to train willpower is to force yourself into any habit or exercise that demands concentration and self control.
That statement may seem uselessly vague to you, so let me put it another way: By forcing yourself out of your mental and physical “comfort zone,” you will automatically be training your willpower. And by that, I mean doing ANYTHING that forces you out of your comfort zone will strengthen your resolve and willpower!
Before you jump to any conclusions, let me say that: while doing big, life-threatening things will certainly put your willpower to the test, you absolutely do not need to start with them! A newbie in the gym doesn’t slap three plates onto the bar and do an ass to grass squat, correct? So why should you expect some dork who’s never done anything difficult in his life to suddenly pack everything up and go climb a mountain?
Just as the gym novice starts with light weights and builds his strength up to tackle the heavier weights, so too does a willpower novice begin with small, mundane things before truly testing his will.
I find that the easiest exercise to do to train willpower is to change some minor habit. Getting rid of a bad habit is the best, but even changing one behavior to a nigh-identical one trains the willpower. Something such as brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, going out of your way to organize a shelf or take out the garbage when you don’t want to, or deliberately focusing on your posture throughout the day will all serve to make your willpower stronger.
To cite an example of myself, I used to have a problem with biting my nails. Deliberate concentration on the matter led me to stop this bad habit, which I haven’t done since I was in high school. Similarly, through deliberate concentration on it I conquered another bad habit I had, that of “jimmy legs.”
In addition to strengthening your willpower in the short term, these deliberate concentrations of willpower will eventually become rote habits. And since things you do mechanically do not require a deliberate use of willpower, this will free up your “reserves” of willpower to tackle another problem you have.
Subjecting yourself to a small bit of pain every day is also a way to train this nonphysical “muscle”-try listening to music you hate or watching a TV show you don’t like for a few minutes, each day, a little more at a time. If you can endure its inanity, you will have undoubtedly made your will stronger. Or, if you find yourself having an itch somewhere on your body, resisting the urge to scratch it is a great method of training.
Should you desire to set some time aside to deliberately strengthen the willpower, here’s an exercise I devised:
Just stand perfectly still and don’t move. Don’t scratch any itches or adjust your clothes or anything. Just hold that position and stay stock still, don’t even move your eyes from whatever it is they’re looking at. Start with a 10 minute hold, and increase the time bit by bit. The best part is, you don’t need a recovery period to train this like you do with your muscles—you can do it every day.
Speaking of physical training, the easiest way to train willpower is to train the physical body, as training the physical will automatically train the mental. In particular, static holds are tailor made to train the willpower, as they all involve the repeated addition of greater and greater intervals of time-whether it be the splits, the L-Sit, the horse stance, or other positions I have previously discussed. But truly, just following a set routine of working out every week will do wonders for your will.
And don’t think that the practice of game won’t increase willpower either. Working up the courage to approach that 10/10 girl will force you to exert your will over yourself, and hopefully over her as well. And, just as I’ve been saying, forcing yourself to repeatedly leave your comfort zone will eventually EXPAND your comfort zone, making those previously scary things a walk in the park and leaving you game to conquer the next beast.
If you’re reading this article, I’ll assume you’re training either your body or your seduction skills. Either way, you’re already doing a primitive sort of willpower training. To make your willpower even stronger, get out of your comfort zone at least once a day, attack any of your bad habits and replace them with good ones, and you’ll see your mental capacity increase.