We try to will ourselves to do something and we get a little bit of traction for an indefinite amount of time, but then we get back to normal, or worse as is the case with crash diets, we add on a few extra pounds and are heavier than before.

The human will plays an important part in our lives, but it can only have an impact when the situation is dire and we are desperate for answers or change. Without some kind of crisis, willing yourself to do anything is nothing more than a waste of time.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot change. We change all the time. We change often but we like to believe that we don’t. In our defence however, most of the change is simply thrust upon us and we know we have no choice in the matter. Like getting new boss, or a new assignment we might not be too pleased with. The internal change deep inside of us seems to be much trickier.

It’s trickier but not impossible or even that difficult if instead of willing change, you simply discipline yourself to do little things each and every day. 

We are creature of habit and those habits keep us orbiting whatever we put our minds to, and that’s just it. It all starts and ends with your mind. What you feed your mind and how often will determine who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing.

Success is not easy and you won’t bump into happiness by accident. Meaningful, purposeful living is difficult because it has to be. If it wasn’t, it would be nothing more than a shallow existence. Which is why we must dig deep, and feed our thoughts with the right things.

First, we have to eliminate everything that destroy us. I love music, but even sad songs, played over and over again, will make you melancholy and depressed. It is impossible to see hope, if all you’re listening to is hopelessness. It’s like asking you to see the sun, when it is hiding behind a snow strom. It is most certainly there. It is always there, but it is almost impossible to imagine at that exact moment.

Your mind is no different and so getting rid of any media, or conversation with people who are cynical, pessimistic or angry, is a good start. Some people and some things need to be cut out of our lives completely. Like a cancer. Nothing can remain. Others, who might be tied to us through blood, marriage, or other circumstances can get a longer leash, but ultimately, you are in control of the moderation.

The second thing you can do is to fill the time you’ve gained with great ideas. It can be a wonderful novel, a comic book, a piece of music, or an hour or two at an art gallery. You can replace that time and work on your body in the gym. Work on your singing, dancing, writing, or cooking. 

I know what you’re thinking. Cooking? How is that feeding the mind? You feed the mind with books and essays, not with a delicious curry chicken dish.

You’re right, but you’re also overlooking the possibilities. When you learn to cook, you have to follow recipes and often the best recipes are hidden with other people or groups of people. You will have to engage them, and that will feed your mind. And when you become really good at preparing delicious meals, you are probably going to invite people over for dinner. Or you’ll bring some of it to work and it will become a conversation started.

I think you should consciously stop willing yours to do anything and expecting change to happen quickly and suddenly. Be patient instead. Find and will some dedication and work your discipline. You don’t have to be perfect, but only one step better than yesterday.

Feed the mind for it is the only thing that can give you the life you seek.

Cover photo generously provided by photographer Steven Chan.