18.33 – Increasing willpower – The only way and the best way
When we fall short while doing something challenging, we often wonder: how can I increase my willpower?
The factors that determine our present level of willpower may be many: past-life karmic conditioning, upbringing and culture, for example. But the practice that can actually increase our willpower is only one: making and keeping promises. Only when we exercise our existing willpower muscles to stick to promises can we enhance those muscles.
Significantly, not all promises are equally potent in boosting our willpower muscles. When we make promises about material things only, then we subject ourselves to a solitary struggle in willpower exertion.
But if we make promises that connect us with the supreme power of Krishna, then his omnipotence offers quantum boosts to our willpower. The Bhagavad-gita (18.33) indicates that the determination sustained by unbreakable yoga practice is determination in the mode of goodness. Such enlightened determination focuses first on strengthening the foundation of our willpower by solidifying our Krishna-connection. We use whatever willpower we have to keep our promise of practicing devotional service at the scripturally recommended and individually customized standard. Honoring this devotional promise increases our willpower in two ways – one normal and one transcendental. The normal way is that it exercises and thereby increases our willpower, as does keeping any other promise. The transcendental way, which is far more consequential, is that it pleases Krishna. He then connects us with his omnipotence thereby blessing us with boosts in our willpower that far exceed what our psychophysical nature would normally have allowed us.
That’s why the best way to increase our willpower is to invest in rigidly practicing devotional service. This investment will give us the richest returns of manifold increased willpower that can benefit us in all areas of our life – material and spiritual.