Here on Mindcoolness, we have a simple moral code. This code consists in one fundamental principle, one law by which we shall live our lives:
Do your True Will.
But what is the True Will?
I) Do what thou wilt
Doing the True Will means doing what you truly want to do. This requires self-lucidity. You can do your True Will only to the extent that you know yourself.
Profound self-awareness is critical for doing the True Will. Without a wealth of self-knowledge, doing what you think you truly want can be no more than “I do what I want,” which looks something like this:
Doing what one wants is the mindset of an ungroundedly rebellious teenager or a hypermasculine boy. “I do what I want, bitch!” says a reactive soul that is enslaved by the ego or by its idea of someone else. “I do my True Will,” says a proactive soul that is free and at peace with itself.
Epistemically, a man’s True Will is what he would want to do if he had perfect knowledge of himself, of what drives and fulfills him. Rationally, a man’s True Will is whatever he wants to do that objectively maximizes his subjective well-being. Economically, this represents idealized revealed-preference utility: what he would do if he were well-informed about the consequences of his choices. Scientifically, this requires an associated activity of the dopaminergic “wanting” and the opioid “liking” pathway in the brain: incentive salience (motivation to chase) and hedonistic reward (pleasure to enjoy), regulated by cortical circuits (strength to self-control).
II) Seven Aspects of the True Will
1. Manifestation of Willpower
The easiest way to understand the True Will is by setting apart short-term goals from long-term goals:
- Short-term goals are dictated by one’s current emotions; for example, craving sugar, craving drugs, craving sex, or craving entertainment. Short-term goals promise instant gratification.
- Long-term goals, on the other hand, are dictated by one’s values, dreams, and principles; for example, sticking to a nutritious diet, not being dependent on drugs, remaining faithful to one’s woman, or working without procrastinating. Long-term goals yield results and life satisfaction.
Behaviorally, the True Will is the bodymind‘s will directed at long-term goals. When you do your True Will, you use willpower to stay true to yourself, live your purpose, and do what is right, regardless of your feelings.
Keep in mind, however, that goals, even if they aren’t culturally distorted ego goals, are only a surface notion of the True Will. On a deeper level, the True Will is not where you want to go, but how you want to be walking.
Philosophically, the True Will is second-order volition. For example, a heroin addict may want heroin and at the same time—on a higher level—also want to not be a person that wants heroin. The True Will is on this higher level of volition that subordinates current circumstances and desires to a greater life vision.
Practically, you can strengthen your will by reading the book Willpower Condensed.
2. Life Priorities
The True Will comprises your priorities in life.
In your current life phase, how have your prorities shifted along with your skills, strengths, fears, goals, experiences, relationships, and insights?
Your True Will is dynamic because your priorities change, because you are a learning, developing, constantly evolving being.
3. Life Purpose
“Do your True Will” is the masculine alternative to “follow your heart.”
Metaphorically, the True Will is neither in the brain (mind), nor in the heart (feelings), nor in the gut (instincts), but in the blood. What a man is willing to bleed for is what marks his True Will.
True, egoless pride is the only emotion that should influence a man’s decisions. He does not decide based on what he “feels like” would be the right thing to do, nor on what his ego dreams say, nor on what society expects him to do (doing what he should want instead of what he really wants). Rather, he decides based on what his self-knowledge, his primordial convictions, and his core values order him to do.
By doing his True Will, a man realizes his vision of the man he wants to become. This is also how he decides whether or not he will listen to his body or not.
The True Will, although pleasurable to do, is not a “passion” in the sense of emotional passivity and affective slavery. Its rational, prefrontal, and metacognitive elements are essential.
4. Authentic Self-Expression
In the present moment, the True Will is the spontaneous expression of one’s true self. Such innocent, yet potentially savage authenticity is beyond the plush shackles of civilization and its soul-deadening consumer culture. Though not a “free will”, the True Will is a freedom of nature.
Psychologically, the True Will is a self-efficacious expression of confidence, for to do the True Will means to not be inhibited by oppressing emotions. So we speak up, stand our ground, embrace confrontation, and move aggressively toward our goals. And whenever we lack confidence, we use courage to do our True Will. Yet our aggression is not rage or anger. Our aggression signals the potency of our will.
Affectively, the True Will is a volitional expression of mindcoolness. Doing the True Will expresses the serene state of a cool mind. You can only do what you truly want to do if your actions are not limited by hot emotions like anger and anxiety. And when you take action in a state of mindcoolness, being grateful for your will, there is no room for fear, hate, sadness, and whatever negative thoughts.
5. Primal Civility
The modern man is partly barbaric beast and partly civilized person. He has an old will, which is animalistic and tribally conditioned, and a new will, which is civil and socially conditioned. Socially, the True Will is an intelligent adaptation of the old, primordial will to modern life.
The modern man no longer has the necessary knowledge nor even the necessary environment to live in a foraging band of hunter-gatherers as his genes would dictate. Thus, he must learn to be true to and act out his primal nature in a way that allows him to thrive in today’s society. That way is a man’s True Will.
This aspect of the True Will is most difficult to manifest. Many men are barely even aware of their old will, of their animalistic drives, brutish desires, and aggressive instincts. Others are ashamed of them, fear them, suppress them, fear to express them.
Doing the True Will does not mean to irresponsibly unleash our beast within. But we shall know it, honor it, and satisfy it in a way that supports a greater purpose.
6. Intuitive Conviction
Esoterically, the True Will is a man’s intuitive conviction that he has to do this or that. Beyond goals and conscious reasons, a man can be profoundly convinced about what the right thing to do is:
- “I don’t know why, but I know that this is what I have to do.”
- “I don’t know why, but I know that I must not do this, for it would hollow out my soul.”
This aspect of the True Will—akin to inspiration, conscience, and Socrates’ daemon—is its clearest manifestation and might be experienced as mystical because it is so beyond all rational doubt.
Psychoanalytically, the True Will bases on subconscious reasons that are rooted deep in the nervous system and its phylogenetic and ontogenetic history. Knowing your True Will, therefore, means to know the implicit intelligence of your body.
(The obvious issue here is that we barely have rational means to differentiate this aspect of the True Will from mere affect heuristics. Practically, I like the approach not of making the right decisions, but of making my decisions right. Frankly, however, I have not solved this problem adequately yet. Read more…)
7. Pantheistic Divinity
When God as Nature expresses itself through man, the True Will manifests.
In the divine sense of intentionless action, doing the True Will amounts to non-doing: an enlightened devotion to the flow of life and to the wisdom of Nature, the great Tao, the eternal One.
III) How to Find Your True Will
The immediate path to doing your True Will is a meditation on your goals: Do you want to be rich or poor? Do you want to be fit or fat? Do you want to be a man or a wimp? Do you want to be a creator or a consumer? Do you want to be disciplined or like a leaf in the wind? Do you want your mind to be cool or hot? Do you want to be free or enslaved? (Notice how this path is intrinsically tied to judgments.)
Once you have checked your ego, you can move from petty goals to a higher ideal of mastery by asking yourself, “What skills do I want to develop and master in my life? What activities do I want practice so much that they will allow me to enter a blissful state of flow?”
I further recommend you take this quiz to identify your core values.
The intermediate path to doing your True Will is a meditation on your purpose: What is your life vision, your mission, your calling? Reflect on yourself, your nature and personality, and answer the following questions:
- What did you enjoy doing most as a kid? What types of activities, kinds of people, and environments did you always feel drawn to or repelled by?
- Which values and principles were paramount in the culture you grew up in? Remember your roots.
- Who inspires you deeply and what makes this person so amazing? Among your friends, whom do you like and respect the most and why. How does he express his will?
- Who fills your head with thoughts and your heart with hate? Hate and negative thoughts often result from envy, which typically points at an unrealized potential, a stifled passion. Learn to use hate to do your True Will.
- What do you frequently tell yourself that you do not have enough time to do? If you think about it on a regular basis, you should probably make time for it.
- When was the last time you were extremely excited about or afraid of something, and how did you act upon it?
- What do you want in a woman? What version of you do you really want to be loved? Knowing what you truly want is absolute key for a successful dating life.
- Is there a thematic pattern in the books you have been reading throughout your life, or in the bookmarks you have saved in your browser?
- If you knew you would die tomorrow, how would you live today?
- Which activities would make your day so great that you could repeat the same day over and over again? Determine your life priorities.
Importantly, you can’t possibly know your purpose and what you truly want if you haven’t tried out many different things. For example, you can’t know what you truly want in a woman if you haven’t actually been with different women. Thinking alone never yields wisdom. Wisdom is experience that has been reflected upon. Primarily, you must live life to gather experience—the raw material out of which you can then form wisdom. If you try to reverse the natural order of living and thinking, you won’t find your True Will. However, you don’t need to flee from yourself either by obsessing about traveling, notch counting, and worries of missing out. If you live attentively, a little life experience can go a long way.
In addition, you can enrich your intermediate path by studying evolutionary theory and human behavioral ecology. This helps you to understand your old will and primal nature. For starters, I recommend the following resources:
- the Stanford lecture series Human Behavioral Biology by Robert Sapolsky
- The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
Finally, the ultimate path to doing your True Will is meditation because a daily mindfulness practice trains your self-awareness and draws you nearer to your true self.
Esto Voluntas Vera!
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