The “James’ Formulas” concern the cultivation of willpower and were created by William James, who based these formulas for the cultivation of willpower upon those of Alexander Bain. I was exposed to these formulas in Theron Q. Dumont’s book, The Master Mind. Professor James has been called “the father of American psychology” and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology.
The “James’ Formulas”:
1. “In the acquisition of a new habit or the leaving off of an old one, launch yourself with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. This will give your new beginning such a momentum that the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it otherwise might, and every day during which a breakdown is postponed adds to the chances of it not occurring at all.”
2. “Never suffer an exception to occur until the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Every lapse is like letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up. A single slip undoes more than many great turns will wind again.”
“It is necessary, above all things, in such a situation, to never lose a battle. Every gain on the wrong side undoes the effect of the many conquests on the right. The essential precaution is so to regulate the two opposing powers that the one may have a series of uninterrupted successes, until repetition has fortified it to such a degree as to enable it to cope with the opposition, under any circumstances.”
3. “Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you wish to gain. It is not the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves, and aspirations communicate their new ‘set’ to the brain.”
“The actual presence of the practical opportunity alone furnishes the fulcrum upon which the lever can rest, by which the moral will may multiply its strength and raise itself aloft. He who has no solid ground to press against will never get beyond the stage of empty gesture making.”
4. ” Keep the faculty alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little, unnecessary points; do every day something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. The man who has daily inured himself into habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”
These 4 formulas for the cultivation of willpower are indisposable to those who wish to develop themselves and achieve success. As for the 4th formula, I myself, and I recommend to the reader who is interested in applying these formulas, take cold showers every day.
It sounds horrible, but with determined repetition, soon you will, as I have, grow to enjoy the cold shower and reap the benefits that come with the strengthening of your willpower. If you cannot go straight into a cold shower, start hot, then go lukewarm, and then end your shower cold. Try it out and see what you think!
Here is a cool picture of William James looking like a badass.