One of the things I love about my mentor is that he seems to manage to take all the little trifles that I bring to him and extract grand and epic themes from them – themes that inspire, that challenge, and that cause me to rethink my perspective.
Recently, we were discussing some mundane work detail, and he managed to draw out this greater theme, which I thought I’d relate here and attempt to humbly expand upon.
The comparison he made this time was between acting based on your will and acting based on your feelings. Feelings are the natural reactions of our human nature – our response to whatever stimuli the body is encountering. Will is the explicit thought and reason about what one ought to do, how one ought to do it, and how life ought to be.
If we follow what we feel and less what we will, the world shrinks. The set of people whom we can tolerate, the set of things we are willing to do, the set of circumstances which we can bear – all shrink. We become more and more selfish. We become self-absorbed, and self-centered. Because feelings are a response to stimuli, we become just that – responsive and reactive.
Will, on the other hand, is an intentional action. It is a thoughtful exploration of what could be, of what should be. To the extent that one has chosen a path of will, their life and their endeavors are measured by obstacles of increasing size. This is directly related to the energy, the tenacity, and the strength they have to take on the gaps between what they will and what they perceive.
The world is changed by will, not by feeling.
As we will, we actively oppose the natural instinct to be selfish, to be self-absorbed, to be apathetic, and to be a spectator in the coliseum of life. The world will not change by us hoping for change, nor will it change because we feel it should. It will not change with us sitting in the stands and waiting.
If the world is to change, it will be by the intentional acts of many choosing to follow that which they will.