Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman
These heroes live in the DC Comics Universe and everyone knows them.
There is another, lesser known, hero (a corps of heroes, actually) that also resides in that universe.
They are the Green Lanterns.
The Green Lantern Corps are an intergalactic peacekeeping force that bring justice to every sector of the galaxy. They’re basically Space Cops.
Each Green Lantern has a Power Ring and it is the source of all their power (thus, the clever name). The ring draws most of its power from the Green Lantern who bears it. Specifically, from their Willpower.
The stronger the Willpower, the stronger the Lantern.
It’s actually the ring itself that chooses its bearer and can scour the universe looking for the being with the willpower strong enough to wield it. There’s more to this, but I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty geeky bits. You’re welcome!
None of the Green Lanterns are inherently super-powered, however. They are all regular beings (like you & me!) who have been chosen to be part of the Corps. Their rings allow them to create anything they can imagine using cosmic green light. The stronger their willpower, the more powerful and complex their creations can be.
You are probably not a superhero, either, but you, too, can use your Willpower to create amazing things.
Be warned, however! There is an opposite force that fights against our Willpower and it is our choices that determine which wins. I call this your Wantpower and, unfortunately for many of us, it can seem stronger than our Willpower.
I’m pretty sure this word doesn’t exist, but it perfectly describes what I believe to be the nemesis of our Willpower. (I will also be copyrighting it as soon as I’m done here, so I can get all the royalties once it takes off!)
Willpower is defined as:
Control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.
Wantpower is the opposite of that and, rather than controlling our impulses (our wants), it gives in to them. We willingly our power over to our desires or wants.
There different kinds of wants, however, so let’s be clear on the ones I’m talking about.
The “wants” I’m referring to are those that don’t serve us.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, your Willpower helps you avoid your cravings, but your Wantpower gives in to all the ice cream, cookies, and candy.
Wants like losing weight, self-improvement, or creative endeavors are capital W Wants and these are fueled by Willpower.
As Creatives, we face off against our Wantpower all the time (distractions, resistance, etc.) and, unless we strengthen our Willpower, it will keep our creations buried inside us for all time.
There are days where sitting down to write or create is like pulling teeth for me. Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter how much I want to do whatever creative project is screaming in my head to be brought to life, I will find every reason NOT to sit down and do it.
My Wantpower is in control and every distraction becomes a rationalized excuse to avoid doing what I really Want to do.
Instead, I want to watch TV or play a game or eat or some other distraction, but I know none of these are my TRUE WANT.
My True Want is to Create.
Wantpower makes me consume. Willpower allows me to Create!
So how can we fight this??
Power Your Ring
It can often feel like our Wantpower is too strong and our Willpower is too weak to ever prevail. That this will never change and that there must be something wrong with us as a result. We tell ourselves that we must not Want it bad enough or we’d, obviously, be doing it – so we give up.
You’ll be glad to know that that is completely normal and that many (most) of us feel the same way from time to time. You are not alone.
The good news is that you can change this.
Strengthening your Willpower is like strengthening your body. It can’t and doesn’t happen overnight (Oh, how I wish it could!).
To become physically stronger, you need to do resistance training (lifting weights). You start at a manageable weight and gradually increase the resistance over time. No one expects to walk into a gym and start throwing heavy weights around like Arnold Schwarzenegger (well, maybe some do, but they end up in traction). So, why would you expect your Willpower to suddenly become heroically strong in an instant, as well?
Willpower is strengthened by controlling your impulses one at a time, over time. Small steps forward every day and celebrating each small victory along the way.
A wonderful Creative friend of mine, Ellen Jenny Watkins, talks about making “Just One Mark” every day. Not focusing on the final outcome, but just One Mark.
For example, if the thought of creating a complete canvas painting is overwhelming (which will strengthen your Wantpower), then focus on just making One Mark. That Mark is any step forward toward your goal. It may be simply staging your painting area the first day, and then painting just one brushstroke on the blank canvas the second. Each is a small, doable step forward.
Whatever your Mark is, do it and celebrate it. Recognize it for the accomplishment it is. It may seem small, but remember that most people don’t even get that far.
One Mark every day over a week, a month, a year can (and will!) create incredible things.
Your Willpower strengthens with each and every Mark.
Eventually, your stronger Willpower will fuel your True Wants and your Wantpower will become a feeble, crazed little imp babbling in the corner. It’ll always be there, but its power over you will be greatly diminished.
Stuff of Heroes
You may not wear a power ring, or a cape, or even have a magic lasso, but you do have incredible power and are capable of doing amazing things.
Superheroes live in our imaginations, but real heroes live among us. They aren’t created by serums, bolts of lightning, or magic. They are created through sheer Willpower and you can be one of them.
Choose your Wants carefully.
Make your Mark.
Step forward every day.
Bring your Dreams to Life!
Go Create Stuff!