Using Willpower to Improve Behavior

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 4, 1911: Had a clash with Ma this morning. I guess she thinks I am one terrible kid! I must bring about a reform if possible.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I wonder what Grandma did.  This entry seems to indicate that Grandma believed that she was in the wrong—and that if she will had enough willpower that she might be able to “reform” herself.

In 1911 willpower was considered an important precursor of good behavior:

The Power of the Will or Inhibition

The conduct of mankind is chiefly governed by the emotions, instincts, and impulses.  . . .

“I am, I ought, I can, I will” are the only firm foundation-stones upon which we can base our attempts to climb into a higher sphere of existence. The first impulse a faculty of introspection, the second a moral judgment, the third a consciousness of the freedom to act, the fourth a determination to exercise that power.

Physical Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna Galbraith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 994 other followers

%d bloggers like this: