Training Your Willpower

Many people fail to get ahead because they have no willpower to do what they know they should be doing. Nor can they help themselves to avoid the things which they know will ruin them. Many such people would like to give up smoking, to stop using drugs, or to avoid affairs outside of marriage. Many find that gambling or alcohol addiction is wrecking their lives. Yet these people have no willpower to set their life on the right course. They feel helpless, and they have to deal with a nagging conscience that pricks them with what they could have done, or should have done.

Yet there are some strong-willed people who seem to be able to do what they know is right and avoid what they know is wrong. Such people experience peace of mind knowing that they are doing the right thing. Their willpower is obvioiusly working for them.

But how do they do it? What is the secret? The secret is that you can train your willpower.

Suppose you made a resolution to skip lunch for a month and actually stuck to your decision. You may save your lunch money, lose a few pounds, develop sympathy for the poor, and give your digestive system a much-needed rest. More importantly, you will strengthen your willpower.

The reason this works is that you teach yourself to avoid lunch even when you know you could have it if you decide. Your stomach may growl, but you won't listen. Thus you train yourself to ignore the calling of your lower physical self and reach for the higher goals of real human achievement. If you stick to your decision day after day for a month you can develp a regular habit of doing the right thing even when your desires are calling for something else.

Every year, for one month, able Muslims go through a similar fasting exercise. They observe the fast as a compulsory practice which God prescribed in His revealed messages, especially in His last revealed book. One of the many benefits they experience from fasting is its training aspect. The willpower they develop in the one month helps them to continue doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong throughout the year. They find the fast such an effective method of spiritual training and of achieving a closeness with their creator that many Muslims also keep some additional, optional, fasts on other days of the year. They eat an early breakfast before dawn and a late dinner after sunset. From dawn to sunset they would have no food or drink; they would also refrain from sexual activity. Whereas the baser selves regularly call for these things, Muslims train themselves with the help of God to fulfill their natural needs in the time and manner which God declared suitable for human dignity and well-being.

During the fast Muslims also train themselves to always avoid lying, cheating, backbiting, and all manner of false speech and immoral actions.