Table of Contents

  • Overcoming Impulses: Strategies for Self-Control and Long-Term Goal Setting
  • Understanding Impulse Control Techniques and the Nature of the Problem
  • Exploring the Underlying Causes of Whim-Worship
  • Why Confronting Whim-Worship Matters for Society
  • Strategies for Overcoming Whim-Worship
    • Implement Impulse Control Techniques: Reduce Access to Vices
    • Cultivating a Greater Purpose
  • Final Thoughts: Building a Purpose-Driven Life
  • Actionables: Practical Steps to Master Your Impulses
    • Further Reading

Overcoming Impulses: Strategies for Self-Control and Long-Term Goal Setting

drugs addiction fleeting | Avoid fleeting desires

To improve your life, you need to overcome your fleeting desires. You cannot improve if you chase every distraction that tempts you.

A whim, often a capricious and sudden impulse, can derail our decision-making skills and long-term planning. When you have a brief, fleeting desire, this is a whim. For example, you may desire to quit your job “on a whim” or eat sweets when you have a quick, sharp craving.

Whims rule our current culture. When we fulfill our whims, we create nothing of value, settle none of our trauma, and never achieve greatness. You cannot build purpose on the shifting sands of impulses.

Overall, whim-worship leads to the degradation and eventual destruction of society. When we cannot think long-term and delay gratification, we lose out on the items, goals, and achievements that produce the best results for our civilization and individual lives.

Today, I delve into impulse control techniques and the consequences of whim-worship. I start by defining and outlining the consequences of whim-worship. I continue by looking at the root causes of whim-worshipping. Thirdly, I briefly argue why we need to address this issue. I finished with a discussion on overcoming your fleeting desires.

Understanding Impulse Control Techniques and the Nature of the Problem

“A ‘whim’ is a desire experienced by a person who does not know and does not care to discover its cause.” – Ayn Rand

Whim-worship is a term coined by Ayn Rand, one of my favorite philosophers. She roughly defined whim-worship as the irrational elevation of one’s immediate desires or impulses to the status of a moral guide without regard to reason, rational values, or long-term consequences.

When we elevate whims, we distract from long-term goals that will improve the individual. This reality is why Rand contrasts whim-worshipping with her ideal of rational self-interest, where individuals make decisions based on reason, objective reality, and principled, long-term thinking. This mode of thinking is the ideal: pursuing what benefits you in the long term instead of worshipping what is impulsive and temporary.

For example, suppose everyone decides to date and have sex with “exciting” low-quality people. In that case, we will see more “fun” but also more single mothers, fatherlessness, abused children, and overall brokenness. This dysfunction arises from pursuing what feels good instead of what is good. To pursue what is temporary and fun while ignoring what is virtuous and sustainable.

In contrast, a sustainable solution to sexual desires is marriage. Marriage requires vetting potential partners by judging them on their character, actions, and long-term investment. To marry a good person is to think about who that individual will be in 40 years when they’re a parent and when they have to deal with difficulties. In addition, marriage is a binding contract, and both parties are incentivized to resolve disputes for the good of themselves, their children, and their community. This option doesn’t allow for impulses to dominate. If one is to be a good spouse, one must have their impulses under control.

Now that we understand the problem, let’s look at the root causes.

Exploring the Underlying Causes of Whim-Worship

As with most issues, whim-worshipping is founded in human nature and supported by a corrupt society. We all want to be comfortable. We like our tasty food, cheap thrills, and exciting moments. We seek that dopamine hit. Healthy cultural, legal, and political institutions would not eliminate the human desire for excitement. These institutions would acknowledge the need for social and personal regulation of pleasure so pro-social behaviors flourish.

Unfortunately, we do not live in such a healthy culture.

For example, our politicians pass laws to reward poor decisions. Welfare is a great example. Single motherhood is rewarded within the welfare system, which incentivizes women to select low-quality men to have sex with. Because women are the gatekeepers of sex, they bear the responsibility for the consequences of sex. They are more excited by the “bad boys” and thus want to pursue them. If they had to bear the burden of being with such men, they would opt to control their whims and seek more responsible mates. However, because of welfare, women and men can enjoy their whims and offset childcare costs for their responsible neighbors.

There are other examples, of course. Instead of having control of their sexual whims, men divulge themselves into pornography, degrading themselves and the women they dare to judge. Corporations have made online shopping more accessible to take advantage of impulse shopping. The mob exploits the emotional highs of its members and pushes people into more extreme positions that reward emotional instead of reflective thinking.

Technology and society feed into the whim-worship to which we all fall prey. But there is no reason to correct the course. There is too much power and money in fulfilling people’s fleeting whims.

Why Confronting Whim-Worship Matters for Society

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Anyone with half a brain and a shred of honesty knows what we have is not sustainable. On a personal and societal level, whim-worshipping does not build the structures and stability needed to deliver the best system or culture.

We are seeing the seams come apart regarding crime, inflation, economics, familial structures, etc. Many people will say our GDP is great, as if money is all that matters to live a good life.

However, if we can individually and collectively address whim worship, we can improve society. When we control our impulses, we won’t waste our precious resources on what feels good. We won’t drag ourselves through vice after vice, collecting more baggage and trauma. We won’t prioritize excitement over virtue. Thus, we will have more time, energy, and effort to direct towards our virtuous ends and help good people.

Socially, if we stop worshipping our whims, we will improve. Can you imagine a society that actually helps the poor? Can you imagine if we collectively had the fortitude, patience, and focus to hold our leaders accountable? Can you imagine what would happen if, instead of scores of criminals, single moms, and deadbeat dads, we had a society of disciplined individuals who focused on their families instead of their vices?

Society is made of individuals. Once the individuals conduct themselves well, society improves. Whim worship pushes us to obsess over what is fleeting and ultimately unimportant to have “fun” or be “happy.” Such whim worshipping can provide nothing, and society cannot survive on “fun” alone.

Strategies for Overcoming Whim-Worship

To effectively manage whims and enhance your decision-making skills, you should work on the following:

Implement Impulse Control Techniques: Reduce Access to Vices

rejection | reject your vices and whims

Attack the triggers that push you towards a particular vice. When you can block the triggers, you can resist vices more easily.

Firstly, reduce your access to vice. The more barriers you put between you and your vices, the easier it becomes to reject an impulse when it arises. For example, if you crave sugary foods, don’t buy any and bring them into your home. Now, when you have a craving, you have to spend inflated money on a delivery service or drive to the store. The discomfort of both options may stop your desire for sugary foods right in its tracks.

You must remove yourself from negative social and cultural influences. Most cultural output is designed to demoralize and distract you. If you constantly feel hopeless and then are told that your vices are what will save you, you are more likely to follow your impulses.

Remove negative influences and reduce your access to your vices. Track what happens when you start engaging in your whims. Figure out your triggers, and you can start removing those triggers.

Cultivating a Greater Purpose

Often, educational systems and parenting styles overlook teaching children how to define goals and pursue a purpose, which are critical elements in cultivating a greater purpose. We never teach them virtue or self-control. They grow up to become consumers, pursuing the highest paying job so they can buy the most shit.

Cultivating a great purpose should start in childhood. For those of us who have aged in a degenerate culture, we must repair ourselves—having a greater sense of purpose quenches impulses. Knowing what you should focus on can be impossible without that more significant purpose.

You may understand you shouldn’t give in to impulses but need a reason. Why shouldn’t you waste your time? Because you have goals to accomplish. Why shouldn’t you sleep around? Because drama and trauma will slow your ability to achieve your virtuous ends. And so on.

Settle your life goals and allow them to affect your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily activities.

Final Thoughts: Building a Purpose-Driven Life

You cannot create an extraordinary life or society with short-term distractions.

Master your impulses. Construct an environment that challenges the satisfaction of immediate urges, promoting long-term well-being. Create a person who aims for more than comfort. When your life has a greater purpose, you can excel beyond a culture that wants you fat, lazy, and stupid.

Defeat your whims. Steel yourself and develop the necessary discipline.

Become An Individual.

Actionables: Practical Steps to Master Your Impulses

hope | woman looking out into the sun

The ruling classes, elites, and mob want you to be a slave to your whims. Rise up. Overcome. Fight back. Be a true rebel.

  1. Past Struggles: What whims have you struggled with? Why have they been as struggle? What has it been like fighting past them and improving yourself?
  2. Other People’s Whims: What whims have you seen other individuals struggle with? How have you felt seeing them fall victim to these impulses? What has it been like watching them recover and overcome these whims?
  3. Overcoming Current Habits: What habits do you wish you could overcome? I suggest creating a list and plotting ways to overcome your bad habits. Take the time to set a goal, determine triggers, and set alternatives. Track your progress, and be prepared to forgive any mistakes you make.
  4. Develop Reflective Practices: Perform daily or weekly journaling to reflect on decisions and desires. This can help individuals understand their impulses and evaluate them against long-term goals. Additionally, meditation helps. Regular practice can improve one’s ability to pause before acting on a whim, increasing awareness of the moment and reducing impulsive behavior.
  5. Strategic Planning for Personal Goals: Understand what you want to achieve in different areas of your life (e.g., career, relationships, health) and set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. From there, set aside time each month to review goals and progress and adjust plans as necessary. This keeps long-term objectives focused and allows thoughtful reflection on what works and what doesn’t.
  6. Cultivating Rational Decision-Making: Remember to write down the pros and cons before making significant decisions. This simple technique forces you to consider decisions’ implications and long-term impacts. Also, consider consulting with friends, family, or mentors when faced with significant choices. Different viewpoints can provide a more rounded perspective and prevent whimsical decisions.
  7. Reducing Impulse Triggers: Remove or alter cues that trigger whimsical behavior. For instance, uninstall shopping apps and unsubscribe from marketing emails if impulse buying is an issue. Continue this technique with a mandatory waiting period (e.g., 48 hours) for thoughtful consideration.
  8. Educate on the Value of Delayed Gratification: Set small challenges that require delaying gratification, such as saving a portion of income for a larger goal or foregoing a small pleasure for a more significant future benefit.
  9. Professional Help if Needed: Sometimes, overcoming deep-seated whimsical habits may require professional counseling or therapy, especially if they stem from deeper psychological issues. Never feel ashamed that you need outside help to manage internal trauma. The shame should come from refusing to improve or wallowing in self-pity with no goal or drive to escape.
  10. Celebrate Milestones: Regularly acknowledging and celebrating achievements can reinforce the satisfaction of sticking to long-term goals and resisting whims.

Further Reading

Whim-worship is a cheeky, philosophical term. However, some psychological theories and studies map how individuals interact with pleasure and distractions.

Some books to consider:

  1. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman:
    • This book explores the two systems of thought (fast and slow) and how they influence our decisions, perceptions, and judgments. It’s a foundational text for understanding cognitive biases and decision-making.
  2. “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” by Barry Schwartz:
    • Schwartz discusses how increased choices can lead to greater anxiety, indecision, and paralysis. This book is relevant for understanding the role of choice overload in whim-worship.
  3. “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein:
    • This book introduces the concept of “nudging,” subtle policy shifts that encourage people to make decisions in their broad self-interest. It’s great for understanding how environmental and contextual factors influence decisions.
  4. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl:
    • Frankl’s experiences in Nazi death camps led to his theory of logotherapy, which asserts that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. This can be a profound read for those interested in existential motivations behind human behavior.

Some philosophies and psychosocial theories to consider:

  • Stoicism: This ancient philosophy teaches control over one’s reactions to external events, offering a robust framework for resisting whims. Stoics emphasize a rational, disciplined life, prioritizing long-term well-being over fleeting impulses. Exploring Stoic writings could inspire you to adopt a more principled approach to life’s challenges.
  • Aristotelian Virtue Ethics: Aristotle’s notion of “phronesis” (practical wisdom) is invaluable for those seeking to align their decisions with deep-seated values and virtues. Understanding this concept can help you make choices that serve immediate desires and contribute to a virtuous, fulfilling life. Engaging with Aristotle’s ethics could provide practical insights into everyday decision-making.
  • Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy: Having mentioned Viktor Frankl’s profound impact, I urge you to delve deeper into his theory of logotherapy. Frankl argues that finding meaning in life is crucial for psychological health and can counter impulsive living. His work can be a cornerstone for those looking to transcend mere survival or pleasure and seek a purpose-driven life.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow’s framework, which culminates in self-actualization as the highest human need, aligns perfectly with pursuing long-term goals over immediate gratifications. Understanding and applying Maslow’s theory can guide you in prioritizing needs that lead to personal growth and lasting satisfaction.
  • Ego Depletion: Introduced by Roy Baumeister, this theory suggests that self-control is a finite resource that can be exhausted. Recognizing this can help explain why we sometimes succumb to whims, especially after a taxing day. By managing your energy and resources wisely, you can better sustain self-control and make decisions that align with your long-term interests.

When we consider overcoming our desire for whims, we must undergird our knowledge with the realities of human nature. We must also expand ourselves by accomplishing greater goals to push past our limitations. The first requires grace and patience, and the second, persistence and zeal.

Please remember it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

*Image credit to Unsplash.