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The Battle of the Generation - Day 81

Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"

Chapter 29- Building Willpower

Like muscles, willpower grows stronger with repeated use. Each time we say no to our desires, our inner strength increases, leaving us stronger for the next battle. Though at that moment we have used up our strength and are weakened, in the long run we become stronger as people (Sefer Cheshbon Hanefesh, 56; Rabbi Shafier, Shmuz 45: “WYSIWYG/ Developing Willpower,” www.TheShmuz.com).

This is encouraging, because as Sefer Cheshbon Hanefesh explains, our exertion strengthens us even if we lose. Each bit of effort is like a push-up for our willpower. Straining ourselves now, even if we don’t win the battle, prepares us to win down the road. By keeping our efforts up, we are paving the way for complete dominance.

But that’s not enough for us. We don’t like losing. We don’t want to keep falling short until we finally become strong. We need a way to increase our willpower even when we are not challenged. We need a method that will give it a temporary boost as well as permanently fortify it.

Fortunately, such a method does exist. We can develop our inner muscles by building our determination to obliterate the yetzer hara. This will give us the strength to overpower our urges.

Building determination consists of two parts. The first focuses on strengthening our overall selves. We do this by repeatedly telling ourselves positive messages such as how determined we are to win, as we discussed at the end of Chapter 26. It’s like a workout for our willpower, and it amps up our desire to win as well. It also keeps us alert, so we’re not blindsided by challenges.

The second part focuses on committing to win specific upcoming battles. We decide to stand strong no matter what in a challenge we anticipate, and we repeatedly stress our conviction to strengthen it. This boosts us for that battle. This method helps us overcome the hardest challenges and earn priceless achievements. Our preparation also indirectly strengthens our overall willpower. And since we grow each time we use willpower in battle, that strengthens us in the long run as well.

Start by playing out in your head hour by hour what the next couple of days are likely to bring. Think about where you will be and whom you will be with. Remember what you have been vulnerable to. Use this to figure out what challenges might arise, and pick one.

Next, determine the right way to act. Before desire pulls us, we see more clearly, and it is easier to figure out our objective. Once you know what’s right, you must firmly commit to do it. Decide what you will and won’t do. Specify the lines you won’t cross no matter what. Make the decision now, before desire can sway you.

Finally, close your eyes and create a mental video in which you envision the situation unfolding. Visualize yourself being challenged and confidently saying no. See yourself winning and rejoicing over your success.