When the sense pleasures overpower our wisdom, we get into the cycle of committing blunders and then the regret follows. We decide not to get angry, or not to waste time on social media or not to eat junk food or do not go for another binge-watching but we can hardly fight them. We end up doing the same mistakes every day and feel guilty about it later on. This has become the normal nature of us and we are OK with it because everyone around us behaving the same way. We have become so hopeless that we continue with life as a slave and yet we are fine with it.
We are fine with this way of life because we don’t have the energy to fight sense pleasures. We see a struggle in this. It is definitely struggling to avoid eating junk food because it tastes so delicious compared to all the healthy food. If you read the last statement again, then you will notice that we are habituated to senses. Because our tongue wants to taste delicious food, we don’t think about the harm it would do to our stomach and overall health.
Building the courage to fight sense pleasure is building the will power. There is an internal fight going on between senses and will and I don’t have to tell you who wins every day. Our will is in a very weak stage. Will power is one of the greatest gifts to human being and yet we don’t use it. You know very well how all those successful leaders reached the top positions in the world. You have already read or heard those motivational stories. There is one truth in all those stories and that is they all used their will power to overcome their weaknesses.
Again, I know you don’t want to be a next billionaire or a giant spiritual leader but you do want the courage to get rid of your harmful habits. God has given many powers to the human being compared to other animals and one of that is making decisions with wisdom. We can use this power to develop the power of will. They are all interlinked and once the will power is strong, we will use it to take better and bigger decisions in life.
The Super Power of Small Decisions
Let’s take the situation of our daily life in which we struggle the most, i.e. doing exercise. It is a daunting task to commit yourself for one more painful 30 minutes in the morning. We have all the equipment at home or we have a gym membership. We even have bought shoes and clothing. What is missing is the will power. The mountain looks too big to conquer. We have already started experiencing body ache and discomfort. As usual, the mind plays its trick and tells you that let’s not do it today as you are already tired.
This is the time when you have to establish your authority and tell the mind that you will make the decision as you know what is right for yourself. What will follow is a series of small decisions. You are not deciding to go for a run or doing any exercise yet. You just take a small decision to wear gym clothing or just decide to wear shoes. People who are practising Yoga can only decide to put the Yoga mat on the floor. Tell the mind you are not sure about the exercise yet. For simplicity, we will continue with exercise in this essay but the same will apply to run, yoga or meditation.
Now you will take another small decision. You will decide to do the stretching for 5 mins, no painful exercise of 30 mins. After stretching, your body is now fully awake so why don’t just do one simple exercise. Decide to do 10 push-ups or a plank for 30 seconds and nothing more than that. You are not going to feel pain in that plus it will increase blood circulation in the body. You already did a good job with stretching and planks, why not try one more exercise of lunges. In the end, such 5 or 6 decisions will help you complete your exercise routine until the time they are part of your habit cycle.
Small decisions allow you to take small action for which we feel less resistance. Less resistance means more productivity. Deciding to climb a mountain in the start may look exciting but we are not possessing the will power to do it and hence we give it up. However, we possess will power to wear shoes. These small decisions then allow you to increase your will power to achieve higher goals in life.
Most of us want to live a life with less struggle. Majority of times, the struggle is of inner nature. We know what is right for us but we are not able to act on and we know what is wrong for us but we cannot resist. These small decisions of every day will help us resolve these inner struggles. Ultimately you will develop will power to control the senses and that is one of the first steps in spirituality.