Are you really using your free will?
Sounds like a stupid question right? “Of course I am!” you say… but are you REALLY? I mean, everyone has free will and is using it right? We all make decisions constantly. I choose when to wake up, what to wear, what to do with my free time and million other things throughout the course of one day. Albeit, they may not always be good decisions that I am making. “I’ll just hit that snooze button one more time (the 12th time).” “I don’t have time to shave today (even though I have that big meeting).” “I’ll just have one drink (more than I’ve already had).” “It’s a good midnight (1:45 AM) snack since it’s all natural peanut butter.” They all seem like normal life choices that happen constantly right? And you’re absolutely right. They are. But were they made using my free will?
What is Free Will?
Free will is by standard definition “a set of capacities for imagining future courses of action, deliberating about one’s reason for choosing them, planning one’s actions in light of this deliberation and controlling actions in the face of competing desires.”1 So what does this mean?
It means that simply making a decision technically is not exercising our free will.
It’s exercising our brainpower, but necessarily our free will. Free will would ask you why are you thinking about something and what are the future outcomes are of all the possible choices. Free will isn’t subject to how you feel, but rather what you truly think. It supersedes feelings and connects you to who you really are. Your true self.
How does it help?
I could be faced with the exact same scenarios above using my free will and open up who I truly am versus how I feel at the moment. Instead of hitting the snooze button like a zombie again I could simply think, “Why am I really hitting this snooze button?” versus “I’ll just hit it one more time”. The first thought taps into my free will and leads me down a path of reason to my true self. My true self would say, “Ebin, you know you want to get up and get that coffee going. You’ve got that big meeting today and you’re going to crush it! Get up and get ahead now and you’ll stay ahead all day and thank yourself for it tonight.” Versus my feeling self which says “Ugh… I’m still so tired. I should have stopped at two drinks last night!!!”
Using your free will and asking yourself “Why am I thinking these thoughts?” before you make an official decision will lead to better choices almost 100% of the time.
Each better choice, makes you feel better, stronger, more confident and one-step closer to that amazing future self you know you can be. Each choice builds upon the last. It's the little free will snowball that can…
So how do we tap into that free will snowball even when we don’t feel like it? Practice, practice, practice. Start with free will baby steps… or baby snowballs? Don’t tackle the snooze button right away. You’re dealing with a lot of subconscious there. It needs to be brought in line with your free will until it becomes automatic. So start with that next step. Literally. Why do I always use the elevator or the escalator? Is there a better option that wouldn’t cost too much time and prove to do more for me? Or, why am I looking for the closest parking spot? Would parking further away be any better for my health? Could it save me money parking up the street AND get me some exercise?
If you start exercising your free will in the little easy-win decisions, you'll start to see it creeping into the bigger ones and better yet… your subconscious. Be patient. It takes some time. Eventually, those decisions begin to change as your free will seeps into your subconscious by exercising it daily. Like an atrophied muscle coming back to life. After awhile… just get out of the free will snowball's way!
Take #2- The same day – with the Free Will Snowball!
- I suddenly hit the dismiss button instead of that snooze button and jump into my day.
- I have time to not only shave but also trim my beard to look extra crisp and have some ham and eggs instead of that to-go bar.
- I park a few blocks further away saving myself more than enough cheddar for happy hour 🙂
- I take the stairs to the 11th floor- free exercise. Go me.
- I crush that meeting and feel ultra empowered. Even got the proud dad look from my boss. Priceless.
- I feel so empowered that I actually say no to that adult beverage, but still find a glass of delicious kombucha to cheers my friends with at happy hour. I save a ton of money not buying booze!
- And even stumbling around half asleep searching for that peanut butter (that sweet amazing peanut butter), my free will is activated enough to guide my hand to a glass of water.
This Free Will Snowball happened simply because… I chose the stairs.
Is your next step really a Step or a Snowball?