Ohhh-hhh Sometimes…

How do you get out of bed in the morning? How do you get out of a warm shower? Or a hot tub, or a sauna, or off a massage bed or a sun-drenched couch? How are you able to extract yourself from ongoing comfort?

You, yes you.

Because it is different for every person. Some people are almost entirely unable to do so, and they are characterized by society as having low willpower and a proclivity towards addiction—addiction to things that make them feel good. You may just call them lazy. Others have no problem whatsoever in rolling out of a warm bed or turning off the shower. They are never sluggish or lethargic, and are generally more productive people.

What is the difference? Or rather, why is the difference?

To say that the difference between these two types of people is due to certain generic disparities that govern willpower would be a fallacious generalization, as willpower itself is not necessarily the same for each person. It denotes a mastery of will, but the will to do what? Perhaps the most common use of willpower is to describe someone who is driven to be productive—a “go-getter”—and for them the ability to break from comfort would be an expression of their will to do something. A woman with that sort of willpower knows that mere comfort will not help her achieve her goals and so is able to shrug off the pleasures of the moment for the chance of glory in the future. She eschews the comfort of the moment because she craves the (greater) comforts of the future.

Willpower can be less calculatingly rational, though, and more of a mindless emotional struggle. Athletes with iron will push their bodies to the limit—and sometimes past—with emotion-driven intensity that goes far beyond the rationality of wanting to achieve. A great sprinter does not think about how each race is one step towards becoming more recognized and gaining more money to support himself and his family; he merely thinks to win. To achieve is the only thing on his mind. Although getting out of a warm bed at seven in the morning is hardly a Herculean effort in comparison to the physical feats of professional athletes, it can sometimes involve the same mindset; that is, a mind that is not thinking, just doing. Just get up; just get out of the shower—the longer that you passively consider the possibilities, the harder it becomes to eventually pull the trigger and take that first step.

So which type of person are you—do you roll out of bed at the sound of your alarm or do you hit snooze at least four times, rolling around in the warm sheets? Are you loath to leave a good situation even if you know you have important things to attend to? How much do you procrastinate? And do you think it is important for yourself to have limits?

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