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.