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But none of us choose or control our own history, even if we happen to produce more serotonin in response to certain stimulii - for genetic reasons.

The point at which 'willpower' (whatever that is - but I suspect it is a Learned Behaviour Disorder) is exercised, is preceded by a chaotic personal history. 'Willpower' has to be seen in that context. It is not something plucked out of thin air or applied by a secret switch.

One can change one's life, but only if that life is ready to be changed - like the psychologists lightbulb.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, but that's a particular form of willpower used in some therapeutic context.

I think some people refer to willpower when they talk about the human ability to realize that something was different that he expected and act accordingly.

Maybe others have different definitions of willpower.

But willpower in the sense you use it is a very particular word used in some particular context in western treatments of the self (which we all know is our main characteristic, to develop hundred of concepts and ideas about the self).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can control or change your response to your history.

Changing ones life includes changing the narrativ or even the myth - but I do agree, you have to be ready. For most people it is a dissatisfaction with their current lifes that makes them look for change. But it is not solely a thing of willpower or thinking - that does not work, it has to go deeper into what kcurie calles the symbolic.

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:23:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is easy to misunderestimate the importance of the stories we tell ourselves, individually and collectively.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure what you mean by misunderestimate the importance.... - the stories are part of how we define and see ourselves - so they are important.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the stories are part of how we define and see ourselves

That is a story you tell yourself. :-)

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did I tell you you make a lovely couple?
:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lovely couple of times?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:59:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, yep!
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:04:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran
For most people it is a dissatisfaction with their current lifes that makes them look for change. But it is not solely a thing of willpower or thinking - that does not work, it has to go deeper into what kcurie calles the symbolic.

This is almost always true.  The power of the frame and the myth is such that the only reliable motivation for one to change that frame and myth is that it does not work and instead produces psychic pain. Such a person feels adrift and lost and usually is missing several understandings, experiences and insights.  I have been that person.

The mystics can be a guide here, but only if one is at the proper point in their life.  When I was in grad school I took a Western Intellectual History course taught by, my luck, a self professed Thomist, his belief system was far from the only thing this professor liked to be outrageous about.  One of the assignments was Juan de la Cruz's Dark Night of the Soul!  I was a 21 year old atheist and thought that having to read and attempt to understand this drivel work was my own dark night of the soul. I read the work and tried to understand it but I had no basis for so doing. I got my A by not having to deal with Juan.  A few years later, after some relevant personal experience, no problem!  I clearly understood what Juan had been talking about, even though the way out that I found would have been alien to him. (Unless, perhaps, some of Juan's experiences were triggered by ergot, but even then...)

One thing though is clear: utter and abject misery is a wonderful motivator to cause one to consider that perhaps there are errors or omissions in one's understanding of one's self and the world, although it is far from sufficient. Subsequently I have often seen that a similar situation is the motivating force for others to reevaluate themselves and their lives.  One can arrive at a similar conclusion on a purely abstract and intellectual basis, but the understanding thus achieved usually lacks the emotional force and motivating power to cause them to be willing to undertake the difficult inner work needed for change.

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My wrap up diary on the round-the-world trip will touch primarily on this subject.

On a completely related note, I hope to get some face time with Guru Fran in Paris.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 02:37:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking forward to it and I would love to meet you.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:35:22 PM EST
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I am looking forward to your diary and also to meeting you in Paris. :-)
by Fran on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 10:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
One thing though is clear: utter and abject misery is a wonderful motivator to cause one to consider that perhaps there are errors or omissions in one's understanding of one's self and the world, although it is far from sufficient.

This also works for countries.

And perhaps for civilisations (but not quite so much.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:16:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But not always well, as Germany in the '30s demonstrated.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But none of us choose or control our own history

What was Marx's quip about 'making history, but not just as we wish'?

We certainly do not choose the circumstances into which we are born.  Worse, the development of our brains is guided for years by our parents, who are, after all, only doing the best they can. But at a certain point we can become aware of these factors and then we have the ability to choose how we react and respond to that situation.  Therein lies our own opportunity and responsibility.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:48:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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