Our only real instinct is to follow our desires.
In nature, it served us well. In a world of stiff competition for basic survival, and where reasoning had not yet been developed, intuition was the only option—if it feels good, do it; if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
But in the Modern Age we’ve developed a myriad of ways to kill ourselves with excess. Our bodies would love nothing more than walking the thrilling path to pleasurable death.
Today, there are a host of individuals who have reasoned paths to their flourishing by supplying our death-urge.
As our reasoning and imaginative capacities developed, no longer could we follow what feels good, without careful consideration of the consequences.
The conflict between the will and the desires is the one of the toughest battles we wage. A balanced proportion of will and desire can enable a miser to become a millionare, but an unhealthy will and desire can bring an all-powerful king to his knees.
Willpower is analogous to a muscle, and it is the tool which allows our weak brain to coax our bodies into action. Our bodies avoid pain and follow pleasure in order to survive. And our will can train that meat-bag, very similarly to training a dog.
Stretch, reward, be consistent.
Practice doing something you don’t want to do, but that you choose to do, everyday.
That’s what I’ve done, and now I do it with a fury.
P.S. Those movies about secret societies in which they ceremonially burn their hand or something, make a lot of sense to me—deciding that you are going to burn your hand, and then choosing to hold it there as it resists, would be an exercise in will overriding the body.
Be careful; if you override all of your humanity, you’ll become a reptile.
“Thank you, sir! May I have another!”
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