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Make expectations realistic. Be prepared to say no. Talk about your emotions and worries. Create the right balance between work and leisure. We are complex beings and cannot be neatly categorized into one of two categories. Likewise, the process of building willpower need not be an all or nothing proposition. Rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak, by making a drastic life change during the New Year, you would be much wiser to strike more of a balance. Make slow but sustainable progress throughout the year. In this way, you will also avoid that feeling of failure when you discontinue working on your New Year's resolution. Get comfortable in the grey area between total success and total failure. It is a process. Along the same lines, human beings also have a tendency to overestimate their own progress. We like to think that we have something mastered and that no more work needs to be done. Take, for instance, a recovering alcoholic. As admirable as we may find Brainerd's devotion to serving God, as true as we may find his hope of heaven, and as much as we can debate the appropriateness of some of the spirituality of which he was a part, we cannot miss the tragedy in his voice. He called death his kind friend and life a burden, and he saw no reason to continue living on the earth. Many of us recognize his longing. We know that ache, that weariness. We know the sound of that longing to finally shake off the heaviness and the darkness of our existence. Like Brainerd, we wonder at our usefulness, our legacy.

Death seems like a friend that will shepherd us into paradise. But we cannot lose sight of the tragedy of these thoughts. We must, as Brainerd did, carry on as best we can, even when we aren't sure why it's worth the effort. We must continue to choose life. Forget multitasking, take on one item at a time. Learn how to meditate. Meditation is useful for managing many medical and mental health conditions and improving concentration, focus, learning, and memory. Studies have shown that the thickness of the cerebral cortex is increased during meditation, and this enhances the brain cell connections, increasing the memory and mental acuity. One of the most accessible and most beneficial forms of meditation that helps your body and mind is mindfulness meditation. By practicing mindfulness meditation regularly, it can assist with managing anxiety, sleep issue, stress, depression, and general mental and physical health, thereby ridding you of all those factors that can affect your memory. Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment and focussing on `now' rather than thinking about the future. This enables you to accept how you are thinking, feeling, and sensations you experience without any judgmental thoughts. There is a variety of mindfulness meditation techniques, but they are all essentially a practice of breathing along with awareness of your mind and body. Sounds complicated? It is easy for a person who has been to AA meetings for years and who hasn't had a single drink in all that time to begin feeling as though he's fully recovered. Much like our January workout master, one feels like he's succeeded and that he's done. But willpower is an ongoing process. This is a very important In other words, when we let our guard down because we feel like we've completed a step in our lives, we are most susceptible to the backslide. The best way to combat this common setback is to check your ego at the door.

Feeling as though you've completed or mastered something is not as mentally beneficial as you might think. In fact, as we've seen with vulnerability, it can be a hindrance. If, on the other hand, you embrace the fact that the process is continuous and that you always need to be mindful of your possible vices, you will be far more likely to succeed. The purpose of building willpower is not to get to a point where you're done or you needn't think any longer about it. Because life matters. Your life, my friend, matters. Like David Brainerd, bent and broken over his journal, you may not see the fruit of your labor. Depression may have you blinded to the goodness your life offers to the world and to those around you. But as it was with Brainerd, there is more going on than your eyes can see. A few months later, Brainerd would confess to being unsuitably desirous of death, writing, That which often drove me to this impatient desire of death, was a despair of doing any good in life; A life spent for nothing. It's Brainerd's worst nightmare. IN THE TIME OF LEAST HOPE Brainerd stayed at the Forks of the Delaware for one year, building his second house among a second Native tribe. It's not, and once you get the hang of it, you will wonder why you have never tried it before. You don't need any equipment or props, and you don't have to go to a special place to practice mindfulness meditation. All you need is somewhere to sit that is comfortable, a mind free of judgment, and a few minutes of your time. First, choose a time of day when you are less likely to be distracted by anyone or anything. It doesn't matter if you can't do this every day, because life sometimes gets in the way, but try and do it the next day if possible. Next, find somewhere at home that is comfortable.

Whether on a chair or the floor, sit with your back straight but don't sit in a stiff position. The next step is to start thinking about your breathing, the air going in and out as you inhale and exhale. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You will have thoughts come into your mind, but don't just ignore them. This is unreasonable. What you'd like to do instead is create a personal system for yourself that understands the difficulty or impossibility of completely mastering your temptations. Do not mistake being mindful of the backslide for being weak. This is absolutely not the case. Recognition and an embrace of the process is a necessary for success. People who fail to manage their own ego also have difficulty with the negative organic thoughts inside their brains. We often have a hard time with negative thoughts because we think it means that we're weak or that we are failures. Take, for example, a person who has a gambling problem. He wastes too much of his money at the casino and soon his wife begins berating him and telling him that he needs to change. He goes a few weeks without gambling and thinks he's doing well. From his account, he did not see an overwhelming response during this time, but he continued to pray that God would bow the heavens and come down for their salvation. During his time there, his diary reveals some of his deepest depression. That winter he wrote, Had the greatest degree of inward anguish that almost ever I endured. I was perfectly overwhelmed, and so confused, that after I began to discourse to the Indians, before I could finish a sentence, sometimes I forgot entirely what I was aiming at; I know it was a degree of distraction, occasioned by vapory disorders, melancholy, spiritual desertion.

He couldn't think clearly. His body, steadily being worn down by the effect of tuberculosis, was failing him. It felt like God had left him. He knew only one thing to compare this gloom to: hell. Make a mental note of them and continue to focus on your breathing. It is this process of noting thoughts and feelings and returning to the practice of focusing on your breathing that is the mindfulness aspect of this type of meditation. There are other ways of practicing mindfulness throughout your day without finding that space on your own. While you brush your teeth, feel how your feet feel on the floor, and think about the toothbrush you are holding and how your arm moves up and down as you brush your teeth. While you are washing the dishes, take note of how the water feels on your hands, what the bubbles look like, and what sounds the dishes make as they touch each other in the sink. There are many other ways of introducing mindfulness meditation into your life, and you would be surprised by how much it will improve your mental wellbeing. We have barely touched on the subject here, but it is easy to find more information and techniques out there. Mind Mapping Mind mapping has become increasingly popular for those who wish to improve their memory. You may remember the charts drawn at school by teachers, with a central bubble and ideas branching off it, and this is an excellent example of a mind map. He then He feels terrible that he is even thinking about it, feeling as though he had been doing so well in the few weeks. These thoughts and urges often make us feel like we've done something wrong. But the truth is that these things cannot be helped. Here is a helpful tip: Embrace your brain. This is a strange phrase but one that, if fully understood, will help you better manage your willpower.