“I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.”
― Pietro Aretino
What do you have power over?
Do you have power over yourself?
You may be in a position to tell others what to do and how to do it. You can will your power over others and have them take action and at the same time you have no control over your own emotions, thoughts and actions. You may lack the will power to change your own story.
Think about it. What goals have you set for yourself that lapsed into decay only a few weeks after you started your grand pursuit. When was the last time you refused an offer for that second helping? When was the last time you turned
down that extra cup of coffee? Did you start to exercise more after your doctor told you that it would be of great benefit to you? When did you stop smoking? When did you stop drinking? When did you stop your destructive behaviors?
We play to the power of dopamine, the feel good drug that is produced in the brain. There is a pull between two powerful hormones, dopamine and adrenaline. Adrenaline is our hormone that causes us to run from danger and dopamine is what is produced when pleasure is experienced.
If we do something that is challenging our systems our bodies produce stress hormones. If we do something we like we produce “happiness” hormones. If we want to change there is a likelihood that it will create stress and that resistance is enough to stop us from making the desired changes. In other words we produce negative hormones when we anticipate change.
As long as the stress of change exceeds the perceived value of the change we will resist making a change. If we can integrate into our thinking self-compassion into our lives we can change how our bodies react to stress. Self-compassion allows us to increase the production of “happiness” hormones. It takes some work to develop strategies to move our towards self-compassion.
Willpower can be increased by practicing self-compassion. With greater willpower there is a chance to create new supportive habits. New supportive habits will increase dopamine levels in your brain which will increase your happiness.