Defining Willpower.
May 10, 2013, 3:14 am
Filed under: Art, Behavior, Brain, Mind, Motivation, Organization, Poetry, Spirit, Writing

treeSome of my sketchpad doodles.

If you could pick one from the tree and keep it for yourself, what would you pick?

This week I’m practicing greater self-control.

Controlling what I put into my body (healthy foods.) I’m falling in love with my juicer and hope to be sharing some sweet drink recipes soon (sans alcohol!) on my blog.

Juicing is not only a great way to cleanse, restore and nourish the body, but it’s also a great short-cut and on-the-run energy boost that can simplify your life (make extra and store it in the fridge!)

Behavioral and psychological research tells us that the best way to keep and nurture self-control is to set long-term goals and then monitor your daily behavior and progress in reaching those goals. Willpower is needed on the journey to the goal – this is the effort you put forth in order to resist daily temptations in order to achieve positive outcomes in the future.

But one of the most important things you have to do before practicing self-control and fostering willpower is to ask what your motivation is.

Identify your driving force.

Why are you working toward that goal?

What does it mean for you and your family and what are the implications on your life?

Defining Willpower

We have many common names for willpower: determination, drive, resolve, self-discipline, self-control. But psychologists characterize willpower, or self-control, in more specific ways. According to most psychological scientists, willpower can be defined as:

  • the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals
  • the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse
  • the ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
  • conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self
  • a limited resource capable of being depleted.

(Source: American Psychological Association

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 16: 31-33



Reminder poetry.

Woke up with the residue of dreams

spread across my mind

stealing joy like black-robed burglars

sneaking for a dime

breaking in without invite

throwing daggers in the dark

but Jesus said the liars

They won’t leave a mark.

Jesus said, my child,

in your weakness I am strong

Don’t worry about your past

Or whatever else went wrong

See I took it all and used it

You gave it all to me

You’re not living for the moment

but for all eternity!

Stretched out before you

Can’t you hear me call you?

I took your hand

so you could stand.

So stand up! Stand tall.

I took the daggers. I took them ALL.

I took the shame. I took the fall.

And when I said “It is finished”

I mean it. It ended there.

At the cross

was the loss

of your sin and your shame

the justification


the end of the game.

Rise up in my love for you.

Stand up – I am stronger.

Only I can love you longer.

See people will talk

No man came tame the tongue

And they’ll search out doubt and lies

Until the earth is done

But understand

Take hold of that truth

that never changes

The love that never rearranges

The ordered and clear peace of my message.

I am with you.

The Armor of God

Ephesians 6

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.



(Courtesy of Google images.)

Brain hemisphere overview.






(Courtesy of Google images.)

This visiual aid provides a peek into the two different hemispheres of the fascinating human brain. We see two halves designed for seemingly opposite tasks, but working together for the whole of the system.

Would you say that you are achieving optimal brain balance and brain health in your life?

What are some things you can do to enhance it?

I’ve started drawing and making art again as a creative outlet and way to provide better balance against constant writing, planning and communication I need to use at work every single day. Drawing straight from my mind – without copying an image from another source – really helps me to relax and keeps the creative juices flowing.

What are some things you do? Do you think of your brain as an organ to keep healthy like your heart or lungs?

A great Web site for brain health is where you can find games, tactics and ideas to harness your natural neuroplasticity and “work out” your brain cells. While neuroplasticity begins to decrease with age, it’s never too late to work out your brain and stimulate it to greater growth and health!

Change your mind, change your life.



Sometimes answers come slowly;

Sometimes they fall fast like rain.

But You teach us to

take all loss as gain.

Trading sorrows for joy

And turning darkness to light

You’ll deliver the victory

through the oppressive plight.

Give peace to your people.

Preach your message.

Give it wings.

to soar through the hearts

of living things.

Cause your Word brings life, truth, the way –

To love and understanding

Humbly beginning like the day

Daybreak over the water

Your thoughts clear

Like molecules of H2O

Living water flow.

Caught in your river.

Your increase is sweet.

Your love like an embrace

that doesn’t retreat.

You hold your beloveds down,

like a rock

Crushing vipers under feet.

Root us in your ground

Let answers come

to those who seek.

Let your sweet vigor

Return to the meek.

Your gentleness is apparent.

Your forgiveness here to bless

Focus your people

To see past the mess.

Eyes only on You

disregarding the illusion.

More Jesus.

Less Confusion.


This poem came to me as I was doing my hair yesterday, but it was after meditating on a certain verse for most of the morning. There are two different translations of this verse in Colossians 2:8 that communicate the message of personal study and vigilance in your faith:

“Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thoughts and ideas, instead of on what Christ has said.”


“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

These two different translations express the idea of false truth “spoiling your faith and joy” as well as “taking us captive.”

There is so much distraction in this world – it is so easy to lose focus when you’re not in a daily habit of cultivating your own faith and belief.

For those who don’t know the Lord or are in a searching phase, philosophies, new age spiritual practices and other literature can be easily consuming.

This is a great music video on the subject of perception, truth and searching. Listen to the words and reflect on the ideas presented.

If you’re seriously looking for life change, hope, healing and insight into your issues, consider walking with Christ through your process. You won’t regret it.

The empirical experience of faith.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Philippians 2: 5-8 

A few posts ago I wrote on empirical versus clinical research in regards to behavior change and kicking old habits by sticking with them consistently for 21 days. To rehash it, the gist is that empirical evidence is based on results gathered through actions in practice, observation and experimentation. On the contrary, clinical research is a branch of medical science  that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use. These may be used for prevention.

So empirical evidence stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered to be evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions.  The senses are the primary source of empirical evidence. Although other sources of evidence, such as memory, and the testimony of others ultimately trace back to some sensory experience, they are considered to be secondary, or indirect.

So I’ve been reflecting on these two different types of evidence and research gathering methods in regards to faith-based belief systems. I see that since I was a young child I’ve been taught to put God first, to do the right things, to care about people, to think about others and to forgive and show compassion. As a child, this was simple and very natural. In preteen years it became more complicated and challenging to stay focused, but support and direction were always ever-present. In teenage years, it became even more challenging and temptation was more present in the form of boys, alcohol, drugs, cheating, skipping school, being distracted from purpose, work ethic and God. Also, at this time there was a large falling away from faith of some of the people closest to me within my circle of friends and in my family, and myself. (I guess this is just what they call “growing up” and learning.) It seemed that distraction and confusion was the norm. The clear, simple-to-follow golden rules of childhood melted away under the distracted, busy adolescent years going into the 20’s. So I also fell away from faith and for many years lived without outwardly expressing faith in Jesus, though I was always searching, studying and working to be a decent human being.

And I see, as we all move through our lifetimes and face challenges, obstacles and distractions from our faith, we are being tested, strengthened or shaped into the people God would have us to be.

But see, we have this element of free-will wired into us, and during all these events we’re constantly choosing our reactions and the path that we will take.

What does all this have to do with empirical evidence?

My faith in Jesus has been strengthened through the storms, trials and the falling away. It has shown me two ways of living: with Him and without Him. I see that without Him, drugs, sex, addiction, confusion, low-levels of health and poor habits were mastering my life and so many lives around me. I learned that with Him, I was stronger, making healthier connections with people, learning how to give back, to love, to lean on Him entirely and to rest in the perfect peace of his light yoke. The empirical evidence gathered by experiences, the observations of the experiences of others, my sight, my heart and my mind reactions began pointing me back to the truth of Jesus Christ.

I’m at the point in my faith where a lot of things slide off of my back. Because based on all the empirical evidence I’ve been gathering over the past 28 years I see that my faith and my story has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s lack of faith or lack of belief. But it has everything to do with the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made when he gave Himself – totally – for the betterment of humankind. And my faith, my walk, my health has only been strengthened because of His mercy and His hand on my life. I see that God gets all the glory for saving me from a life of shame, anger, addiction and pain and for doing this for so many others. His grace truly is amazing.

This is why the Serenity Prayer is so powerful in recovery practice – recovery from abuse, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, recovery from sex addiction, recovery from co-dependency or recovery from loss and the bereavement process. We truly must ask for discernment and wisdom in our walk to good health and a good life. This is why recovery is a process. It’s a daily walk.

We must ask God to weed out the poor influence, the low feelings, the hurt, the pain – we must ask Him to pull all of those things out and to help us change what it is we can change. He has to pull out the bad roots to allow his good seed to grow. We must use our free-will to assume control over the things we can control. Only the things we can control. And we ask for wisdom to know the difference. It’s amazing what this prayer can do. It’s amazing what God can do!


(Courtesy of Google images.)

Great scripture for meditating on wisdom:

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Proverbs Chapter 2

2 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.[a]
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the unfaithful will be torn from it.



(Courtesy of Google images.)

In verdure.

“To sit in the shade

on a fine day

and look upon verdure

is the most perfect refreshment.”

– Jane Austen –

jane(courtest of google images.)

Depression: More than blues.

More and more depression is being recognized by the general public as a mental health issue needing treatment and understanding. The term “depression” is often used loosely to describe low feelings or passing moods, but the reality is clinical depression is an illness that affects a person’s mind, body and mood. It can be a slow, creeping chronic illness or appear as an acute episode that seems to come on quickly.

Many people dismiss depression as being “all in their head” or feel frustrated that a depressed relative or friend can’t “snap out of it,” but the reality is that depression is very real to those who suffer with it and about 15 percent of people with severe, clinical depression commit suicide.

Clinical depression does not discriminate on the basis of age, race or socio-economic class, but statistics show that those between 25 and 44 are more likely to suffer clinical depression.

Clinical depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both, and the success rate is about 80 percent. With early recognition and healthy support, most people are able to get on with their lives and overcome the burdensome symptoms of depression.

Breaking Through 3 Myths on Depression

1. Depression is a weakness, not a health problem.

In a recent survey, nearly half the participants believed that depression was a personal or emotional weakness one could just “snap out of.” The fact is that it is not a weakness. It is a mental health problem that can be treated. Untreated depression can lead to more serious physical health issues.

2. Depression is a normal part of aging.

Although aging can be accompanied by events that trigger depression, it can strike at any age, with or without events that could be concluded to be logical “reasons” for depression. Sometimes, depression simply “is.” This can be a tough reality for many loved ones of individuals with depression to understand. If they cannot see or find a reason for the depression, it is more likely to be excused as weakness or “all in their head.”

3. Depression is best dealt with by non-health professionals.

Although a healthy support group and family or friends are helpful to recovery, nothing can replace appropriate evaluation and treatment by a health care professional. The first step is a thorough physical exam to rule out other illnesses. Primary care physicians can help determine the best approach to treatment and refer patients to other health professionals, counselors or social workers.

Signs and Symptoms

The difference between someone who is sad and someone with clinical depression is the duration and severity of the symptoms. For the person with clinical depression, the blues do not go away after a long weekend, a happy turn of events or a favorite activity.

See your doctor if you experience five or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks:

Feel sad, anxious, irritable, nervous or empty.

Sleep too little or too much, trouble falling asleep or waking up.

Appetite and/or weight gain or loss.

Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

Restless or slowed behavior.

Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches,  chronic pain, or digestive disorders that don’t respond to treatment.

Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.

Fatigue, loss of energy.

Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless.

Thoughts of suicide or death.

Change in work style – working slower than usual, missing deadlines, inability to complete tasks, calling in sick often, decreased involvement with work or interaction with co-workers.

If you suspect someone is clinically depressed, the most important thing you can do is to help him or her get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The second most important thing is to offer emotional support. Be positive and sensitive while maintaining as normal a relationship as possible.

Causes of Depression

Family History: One in four or five people with clinical depression have a relative with a mood disorder, as do about half of those suffering manic-depression.

Environmental Factors: Clinical depression can be triggered by stressful events or traumatic experiences, such as death, severe illness, divorce or job loss. Difficult work conditions, poor supervision at work or an excessive workload, sexual or racial discrimination or an unsafe environment can also contribute to depression.

Chemical Imbalance: Brain chemical imbalances, which may be inherited or acquired, are believed to be the underlying causes of clinical depression. Changes in brain chemicals such as serotonin, nor-epinephrine and cortisol may influence a person’s energy level, emotions, and sleeping and eating patterns.

Psychological Makeup: Are you a negative person? Do you have a negative attitude toward life events? Low self-esteem? Are you easily over-whelmed by stress? These seem to make a person more vulnerable to clinical depression.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Some people with mood disorders try to “drown their sorrows” by drinking or using other substances that reduce pain or bring false feelings of happiness. Although they can bring temporary relief, they may make depression worse in the long run. Alcohol itself is a depressant, and one third of those diagnosed with clinical depression also have a dependency on alcohol or drugs. Called a “dual diagnosis ” this constitutes a more complicated problem that requires treatment to address both the depression and the dependency.

depression(Courtesy of Google images.)

Information for this post was gathered through a publication of the Wellness Councils of America . The information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider.

Please see your health care provider if you are experiencing any of these issues or talk to a trusted friend, relative or professional if you know someone who is.

You can find more information on clinical depression at:

Mental Health America (MHA)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 

Habit-forming behaviors.

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence,

but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.

We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

– Aristotle –

Everything we do and are has come as the product of conditioning and repetition – from how we form friendships, to our morning routine and even the simple act of brushing our teeth or getting dressed. Without exemption, we have habits that accompany us throughout our lifetime. Some habits we form willingly. Others may seem forced due to a difficult childhood or other traumatic events that inhibit healthy development and functioning. Some habits we may battle with. Many habits we strive to create, enhance or improve. But habit is always there. And my oh my habit energy can be strong. And stubborn. Isn’t that why they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? The older we become, the more difficult it becomes to change our habits from inert, ineffective acts to productive, healthy behaviors and that’s because the plasticity of our brain synapses begins to decrease the more our age increases.

“Everything we do (and think, for that matter) is governed by impulses firing across synapses, or spaces between certain cells that guide communication in the brain. When any behavior or pattern is repeated enough, the synaptic pathways associated with that pattern get used to being accessed. As a result, it becomes easier for impulses to travel along those pathways, and the behavior seems “natural.” In other words, to the brain, wake-coffee-cigarette, in that order, is practically instinctive. One action triggers the next.” Source:


Brain synapses making connections.

(courtesy of google images.)

So the theory outlined in this linked article here is purely empirical, in other words, not rooted in clinical research and study. (Empirical: depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.) Introduce yourself to a new habit and stick with this habit for 21 days straight and see what starts happening. Pay attention to your motives, behaviors and feelings during the shift. Notice that changing a deeply ingrained habit can feel awkward or foreign at first. But when striving to attain healthier habits, your body and mind will soon begin to adapt to the positive changes and the actions will become more natural. Before changing an unhealthy habit or beginning a new exercise or nutrition routine, it is wise to consult your healthcare professionals.

Thinking and feeling.

“Apparently, the most difficult feat for a (Cambridge) male is to accept

a woman not merely as feeling, not merely as thinking,

but as managing a complex, vital interweaving of both.”

– Sylvia Plath

U1889231(courtesy of google images)

Creativity and mental illness.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy.

What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach.

Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

– Charles Mingus –


(magazine collage by me 4/12/13)

The old adage says, “There is a thin line between genius and ‘insanity,'” but studies are now showing there are indeed connections with the creative mind and mental health difficulties. The following article below is copied from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which I have repeatedly plugged on SimplyEnjoy and it’s a fantastic resource for mental healthcare information. You can find descriptions on illnesses, treatment and support options. Consider checking it out and even making a donation if you or someone you love have been affected by mental illness or have had mental health difficulties.

Mental Illness: New Study Explores Link with Creativity; NAMI Events include Music, Drama and other Arts

~ July 1, 2010 ~

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is focusing on films, music and other creative arts this week-at the same that a new scientific study has found a possible explanation for the link between mental illness and uninhibited processing in the brain that allows people to think “outside the box.”

In Beautiful Minds: Creativity and Mental Illness appearing in the latest issue of NAMI’s Advocate e-magazine, NAMI highlights a Swedish study and other research exploring potential links between schizophrenia and artistic tendencies.

The Swedish study shows that highly creative people have a lower density of dopamine receptors in the thalamus. People living with schizophrenia also have been found to have low dopamine density. Other studies suggest that a genetic difference may be shared by creative people and those with psychotic symptoms.

In NAMI’s weekly blog, NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick discusses creativity as a “powerful” means for education about mental illness. In fact, “creativity is required by anyone whose life is touched by mental illness” in order to enhance education, support and recovery.

The 2010 NAMI Convention opening this week in Washington, D.C. includes many artistic elements, including a performance by Grammy-award-winning singer Susan McKeown. On Friday evening, award-winning poet and songwriter Michael Mack will perform portions of Speaking in Tongues, about his mother’s life with schizophrenia.

The Free at Last Players, a theatre troupe now in their 20th year, will speak openly in skits and songs about their experiences with mental illness and different forms of stigma and exclusion.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month also begins this week and the NAMI Advocate Bookshelf feature recommends reading the newly-published novel Try to Remember by Iris Gomez as “a wonderful way” to observe it. Set in Miami in the 1970s, the book portrays a family’s struggle with mental illness from a Latino perspective. Their teenage holds them together in the face of her father’s battle with schizophrenia.. Fewer than one in 20 Latino immigrants with mental illness ever get help.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.


“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life.

And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it.

It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.”

– Matt Groening –


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