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Why is it that willingness (readiness, inclination, will, wish, desire, alacrity) is a desired trait,

and having willpower (determination, strength of character, resolution, resolve, resoluteness, single-mindedness, purposefulness, drive, commitment, dedication, doggedness, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power) is admirable,

but being willful (headstrong, strong-willed, obstinate, stubborn, pigheaded, recalcitrant, uncooperative, obstreperous, ungovernable, unmanageable) is a fault?

Is it just a matter of perspective?

If I want to help you with your goal, I show willingness and this pleases you.

If I want to achieve my goal, I must have willpower, and you admire this.

If I go against your goal, I am willful, and you are upset by this.

Who is this I? Who is this you?

Me! I am the I and I am the you. Meditating is like having a conversation with the voices in my head. When I meditate, I find it helpful and enlightening. Yet I’ve been resisting it big time. Five or ten minutes at a time has been my limit lately. But Eric taught a preview of his Zen Yoga class last night, so I came. And sat.


In the course of the thirty minutes, I was willing to sit and explore the “effortless effort” he spoke of – which is much different than the deliberate and sometimes contrived/forced effort it takes to get through the day. That felt nice and peaceful. I practiced willpower by staying still for the 30 minutes. That felt victorious and strong.

I was also very willful. What am I doing here? Why am I doing this. I am so done with this. This is taking too long. There are so many other things I could be doing! That felt really irritating. It made me angry. But who was I mad at exactly?

“Willpower is nothing but willingness to do.” B.K.S. Iyengar

Alrighty then, I’m willing. And willful. Perhaps there’s some power to be found in that.


  1. Candi
    July 24, 2015

    I love how your mind works 🙂

  2. Christine
    July 27, 2015

    My daughter was a very “willful” child – headstrong and stubborn. It took me a long time to understand the good in these attributes. Once I came to terms with the positive powers of willfulness, I saw her and her behavior in a more positive light. She is now an accomplished woman, who never let’s anyone push her around :-).

    • Cindy
      July 28, 2015

      It is so great that you can see both sides. We (as in society) always talk about kids being the future, but we need kids who will think for themselves…even if it would be easier in the short run if they’d just “go with the flow”!


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