Fries or cheesecake are usually more appealing than steamed vegetables or raw almonds.
When would you be most likely to choose a healthier option?
I once wrote this while high:
“What if no one in the world chose to save money or eat vegetables?
“What if no one got up on time, went to the gym, or cleaned their house?
“What if no one ever did what they thought they should, or followed their conscience at all?
“Why are we sometimes able to live by our convictions, whereas other times we fail?
“When I could no longer bring myself to listen to music I knew was actually hindering me, I finally listened to helpful music instead. It wasn’t a matter of willpower or determination.
“Imagine arriving at whatever the final stages are of no longer being able to stand feeling out of shape. Wouldn’t reaching that unbearable state make diet and exercise all the more appealing?
“Decadent food eventually becomes too heavy or sweet to enjoy. That’s precisely when a cool glass of water seems most refreshing.
“Yes, I believe your attraction to the good things you want must exceed the pull of your addictions, compulsions, and immature tendencies. But those good things really lay just one step beyond all that’s currently keeping you from reaching them.
“You can see the good things so clearly when you can no-longer bear what you’ve been experiencing instead.
“The question is: How do you reach those good things from where you are right now?
“I often attempt to run from my limited state by tangling myself up in some newfangled plan for how to do exactly what I’ve never been able to do before.
“My attitude is: ‘Well, thanks [good thing] for showing me what I want. Okay, I’ll take it from here…’
“When you reach your own inability to change, I’d encourage you not to fight or run from that inability at all.
“Rather, just wait. Listen. See the potential for true change that exists within your disgust at the consequences of how you’ve been living.
“Don’t waste that potential by giving willpower alone another cheap opportunity to fail.
“Rather than purposing to jump and make changes, simply be still and let yourself see what you truly want.
“Imagine this scenario: You’ve had an anger problem for years. The same triggers, people, sounds, and circumstances always seem to plunge you over the edge into rage at every worst possible moment.
“If you could see in time just how unreasonable your angry actions are, you’d also see how unnecessary their consequences have been. Then all your anger’s tightly held injustices would soon be left with no legs to stand on.
“You’d be so drawn to the appeal of learning to respond to those same triggers, people, and situations differently.
“I have lots of good reasons for wanting to control my weed addiction. As I prepare to share my experience, I can’t help but see what I’ll be missing if I’m still getting high every night next week . . . two weeks from now . . . a month . . . another month…
“I also see good things already working in my life. I’m not getting high all day, every day like I was. I’m spending more time pursuing goals and enjoying my family.
“It honestly feels like the good I want, itself, is calling me onward. I can’t comfortably stay where I am anymore.
“Do I trust this process?
“I’m still tempted to respond to any failure with shame, grit, and even more determination to make and follow even better plans to change.
“Why are shame and plans always my response?
“Why is perfection my standard?
“I think part of it has to do with the world we live in.
“Unfortunately, there’s always a great distance between your inner world and the expressions you see others choose to put out into the world.
“Not obeying your conscious can make you feel particularly ashamed in a world where everyone portrays their lives as perfect and perfectly in control.
“Alone, it’s easy to misinterpret the obvious distance between how you know you are and how others make themselves appear.
“Instead of beating yourself up for failing to live up to an impossible standard, just let yourself see how good your life could be one step beyond your current limitations.
“In other words: Instead of peering wistfully at an infinite distance above, see only from where you are how wonderful the very next step up could be.
“Seeing my experience come together here transforms the intuitions I’ve collected into values—good things I know I want in my life.
“Preparing to go public with my experience turns those values from concepts or ideas into an actual identity—a person I see myself becoming already as I grow and share.
“That’s when I start to believe in myself again despite all my past failures and current limitations.
“I hear passions I’d long forgotten whisper, daring me to be someone I gave up on ever being long ago.
“How could this amazing process be happening even though I’m still using weed more than I think I should?
“Doesn’t weed tie me to the very limitations it causes or stems from?
“Weed addiction hasn’t stopped the process yet.
“As for willpower, it can be extremely humbling when the good things you want instead of your current unbearable state arrest your attention and begin to work themselves to life through you.
“As you see yourself becoming the person you want be, you know you’re not the one initiating or controlling your transformation. It’s the good you want that reaches down to you (just where you are) and eventually pulls you up and out.”
Are you burnt out on the sugar and fat of your addicted state? Does the fresh, cool water of a better life call out to your thirsty soul like an oasis in the dessert?
Surely willpower must come into play at some point…? There has to be a choice made somewhere along the line, right?
We’ll keep exploring willpower tomorrow.