The power of the will. Process of controlling our actions and choices

Our brain prefers instant rewards rather than long-term rewards. It is simply a consequence of the way the human mind works. Given this tendency, we often have to resort to various strategies to bring things to fruition.

In modern psychology, the theory of will is a pragmatic one. The will is not regarded as a separate mental faculty; is considered to be a quality or an aspect of behavior. Volitional processes can be applied consciously and can be automated over time, becoming habits. Most modern conceptions of the will approach this notion as a process of control of the action, which is automated. Every choice or decision we make is an act of will. We may not be aware every time that we are the ones who choose and, maybe, sometimes we even feel victims. However, wherever we are and whatever we do, what happens to us is our choice. Without choosing, we could not stay where we are. Without choosing, we could neither stop what we were doing nor could we continue to do that. Each time we make a choice, we execute an act of will.

The prefrontal cortex is that part of the human brain just behind the forehead and eyes, being responsible for abstract thinking, analyzing thoughts and regulating behavior. When we meditate or reflect, we rely on the prefrontal cortex. He controls how we express our personality, what we think and how we feel. Scientific studies show that this part of the brain is the last to evolve, and its development is only completed around the age of 25 – which is why adolescents engage in high or excessive risk behaviors, even if they understand the consequences.

One of the biggest distortions in our thinking, when it comes to the power of the will, is to believe that it must be an effort or an intense attempt or that we are exhausted or consuming our energy, one way or another. On the contrary, when we do acts of conscious will we feel more energized, alive and more “present” in the world. We have a lot of opportunities for developing all aspects of the will. A sure act of will can also be to get up in the morning from the bed a quarter of an hour earlier. If we have a special reason for doing so, it is, of course, an act of will. But we can also choose to do this simply as a way to train our will or develop our power. Whenever we use this situation in our daily lives, we strengthen ourselves and become more capable of using our will when we need it. An act of will is generally conditioned not only by knowledge, but also by a certain state of consciousness or emotional feeling. The will is drawn to pleasure. The will is closely linked to consciousness. In humans, any act caused by the will is preceded by certain thoughts.

We are tempted to place a lot of actions in the will power. Often, we identify the lack of will as the main cause, when we talk about the inability to reach the goals.

Psychologists characterize the power of will or self-control in more specific ways. According to most scientists, the power of the will can be defined as follows:

Ability to delay satisfaction, short-term resistance to temptations, in order to meet long-term goals.
The ability to overcome an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse.
There are studies according to which the exhaustion of the will is related to the glucose levels in the blood. Regular eating – to keep the blood sugar in the body constant – can help recharge the “batteries” when the will seems to have left us. Glucose is a chemical present in the bloodstream. It is the “fuel of the brain” in that it provides energy for its activities. Neurotransmitters are synthesized from glucose. Glucose is also used to provide energy for much of the body’s other activities, including muscle effort and even the immune system. Glucose is made from nutritious foods (not just sugar) and is used or stored for later use.

Other studies of exhaustion of will suggest that drawing up a list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve is the worst possible approach. In other words, let’s not try to quit smoking, adopt a healthy diet and start a new exercise plan at the same time. Taking the goals one by one represents a better approach.

When the power of the will fails, exposure to an emotionally charged stimulus goes beyond the rational, cognitive system, leading to impulsive actions. But with the right motivation, it is possible to persevere, even when the will power has been exhausted.

What do you think?

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