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Willful versus Willing

by Jo-Ann Downey on January 28, 2013

in Mental Clarity & Calmness

Are you in the flow or intensely focused on your personal or professional agenda? Are you open to feedback from others and the universe? Are you more willful or willing?


According to, willful is “deliberate, voluntary, or intentional; unreasonably stubborn or headstrong; self-willed.”  Willing is “inclined; cheerfully consenting or ready.”

To me, willful is will-full; no room for intuition, to openly receive feedback and ideas, and has a closed energy.  Willing is a state of readiness, openness, and flexibility. I find it interesting that the definition of willful includes the concept of self-willed to which I say “exactly…and how limiting!”  What about the power that can be used outside of your personal will?

Willful versus Willing Examples

Willful thought: “I can handle this on my own”

Willing thought: “I have experience to do this and I am open to guidance and assistance”

Which is more calming?

“Where there’s willingness, there’s space for grace.” Jo-Ann Downey

Intentions and Willingness

As shared in “Intention Series: How to Create Powerful Intentions”, expansive intentions are criticalSince you do not know how good it can be, why limit yourself to what you can receive? During the process of setting an intention set aside any limiting thoughts or beliefs. For example, “I am meeting my financial obligations” (limiting) versus “I am easily and gracefully experiencing financial prosperity.” Go for it- be willing to allow for miracles, course corrective feedback, and positive surprises as you move forward with your personal and professional goals and intentions.

Acceptance and Willingness

Willingness also has an element of acceptance.  As shared in “Acceptance and Patience”, your current life situation may not be your preference, and you may want to change things in your life; however, you must start with accepting what is present. Acceptance is not apathy. It is a choice and the choice is yours to make.

A willful approach is about denying, fixing or changing things; a willing approach accepts what is and moves on from there.

“Willingness opens space for grace.”  Jo-Ann Downey

I welcome your comments! The name you type in the comment section (for example, Jo-Ann, Jo-Ann Downey or Jo-Ann from Boston) will appear on the site next to your comment. Your email address will NOT appear. If you provide a website URL (for example, your business or your blog URL), it will be linked to the name you typed in name so others can learn more about you.

photo credit: cherylmsf



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one } September 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

Right now it looks like Drupal is the preferred blogging platform
out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?


Jo-Ann Downey September 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

I use wordpress, but I just looked at Drupal and it looks interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing your blog! Jo-Ann


banking May 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Hello! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
I’m getting tired of Wordpress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m
looking at alternatives for another platform.
I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.


jess April 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

LUV, LUV LUV your site!!!

Would you be able to clarify this for me?

“A willful approach is about denying, fixing or changing things; a willing approach accepts what is and moves on from there.”

does “willing” not fix or change ,not sure wht you mean,thx!


Jo-Ann Downey April 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm

jess- thank you for your positive feedback. Your question is awesome! Perhaps a way to look at willful versus willing is to look at where you, or others, are coming from. In other words, where is your/their consciousness. When I experience myself or others as having a willful approach, or consciousness, it is more about force than flow. Change can happen with both a willful and willing approach. I am suggesting that a more natural, graceful, and/or “open to more possibility” approach is when willingness versus willfulness is present. Thank you for your excellent question.


Smitty October 25, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I am sitting here doing my homework for mindfulness and we are on the subject willing vs. willful. I seriously just wrote down you’re exact same question in my book and then came across this site. Thank you for asking it as I have a clearer understanding now. :)


Jo-Ann Downey October 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Smitty- glad to be of assistance! Jo-Ann


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