Willpower

Willpower

Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Book - 2011
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One of the world's most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, teams with New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it.

In Willpower , the pioneering researcher Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with renowned New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control.

In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse. Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain's store of fuel. That's why eating and sleeping- and especially failing to do either of those-have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).

Baumeister's latest research shows that we typically spend four hours every day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank a lack of self-control as their biggest weakness. Willpower looks to the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists-including David Blaine, Eric Clapton, and others-who have flourished by improving their self-control.

The lessons from their stories and psychologists' experiments can help anyone. You learn not only how to build willpower but also how to conserve it for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best new techniques for monitoring your progress. Once you master these techniques and establish the right habits, willpower gets easier: you'll need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That's neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life.

Combining the best of modern social science with practical wisdom, Baumeister and Tierney here share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower. As our society has moved away from the virtues of thrift and self-denial, it often feels helpless because we face more temptations than ever. But we also have more knowledge and better tools for taking control of our lives. However we define happiness-a close- knit family, a satisfying career, financial security-we won't reach it without mastering self-control.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2011
ISBN: 9781594203077
1594203075
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Tierney, John (John Marion)

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g
glendaycarper
Feb 14, 2014

g.carper Feb. 14, 2014

Interesting read. Offers ideas for strengthening self-control,will power that appear possible to try and hopeful.

c
cdimov
Oct 26, 2013

Tierney & Baumeister do a good job on WillPower. It is definitely a very interesting read. There are various good empirical observations drawn from scientific psychology research. It is also written in an easy to read format. Despite good examples, I somehow still felt the book lacked more tactical, directives on how to strengthen your own willpower, or that of your children - through specific targeted exercises.

a
AnnetteLee
Aug 07, 2012

Excellent book!

g
grigs54
Jun 01, 2012

Fascinating stuff...although the authors cite so many studies, they all begin to blur together.

m
mokrosa
May 02, 2012

An informative and thought-provoking examination of self control that describes psychology studies and uses examples but is not a dry text book or superficial self-help book.

j
jbolta
Mar 29, 2012

Who would have thought self-control trumps self-esteem.

ksoles Oct 17, 2011

When during the day do judges grant the most paroles? Who reports their eating habits more accurately, dieters or non-dieters? How does someone train to hold his breath for 17 minutes (and why would anyone want to)? What defines self-control? In the fascinating and relevant "Willpower," psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and New York Times science columnist John Tierney elucidate new research on fighting seemingly uncontrollable urges.

Together with intelligence, self-control emerges as the best predictor of a successful and satisfying life. But the authors neither advocate for resisting temptation by sheer force of will nor condemn those who give in as morally irresolute. Rather, they explain that willpower consists of circuitry in the brain that runs on glucose, has a limited capacity and operates by rules that scientists can reverse-engineer, thus compensating for its shortcomings. Examining case studies such as Eric Clapton, a former drug and alcohol abuser, and Oprah Winfrey, the quintessential yo-yo dieter, and citing numerous laboratory experiments, "Willpower" offers a plethora of advice: don't try to tame more than one bad habit at a time, watch for symptoms of "ego fatigue," don't diet, block out temptation as much as possible.

The authors largely appeal to evolutionary biology to explain their findings; neuroscience and economics take a back seat to human interest. Thus, the book contains no discussion of elements such as likelihood of success, temporality and evolutionary impact, which all affect goal-setting and the degree of gratification following achievement of said goals. Nevertheless, "Willpower" provides a rewarding read filled with insightful reflections on the human condition.

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