7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I really wanted to know about willpower. In my work as a therapist I often find that willpower is something elusive that frequently fails to support us in getting what we really want.
What I discovered in this book was absolutely fascinating.
One of the most amazing things this book revealed to me was that willpower is very much like physical energy. When you do a lot of work your muscles get tired. When you make a lot of decisions your willpower decreases. So if, say, you were trying to lose weight, then what happens is that the more times you resist a piece of tempting food, then the more difficult it becomes to resist the next time. So failure is inevitable and absolutely nothing to do with self-sabotage.
Sticking with this food theme, it seems that what is happening is this. Brain fuel is glucose. Every time you make a choice, your brain uses up some of its available glucose. So every time you make a choice you are depleting your supplies of glucose. Now since food is the source of glucose then craving for sweet food increases every time you choose something. So if you want to lose weight - don't make any decisions. But, paradoxically, if you eat a little, that helps you to resist food.
Another piece of fascinating research showed that Stanford University students could either get their assignments done on time or change their socks every day - but not both. This and other research suggests that exams are at the wrong end of the term. By the time exams are reached the students have used up so much brain energy for study that they have no time to make choices about anything else so things like healthy eating and simple hygiene just go out of the window.
This book is full of details of interesting and unusual research that give powerful insights into mind, and thought processes.
One of the best books I've read in a while.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed this book for the interesting content and deluge of groundbreaking knowledge that it imparts to you.
Willpower has a lot to do with your glucose and the efficiency that your body is able to convert it into brain energy. Those that have difficulty converting glucose for muscle and brain use are diabetics. Why are experts able to predict criminal behaviour based upon the effects of glucose and peoples ability for self-control?
We discover that no glucose = no willpower. So "Feed the Beast" - a good day starts with a healthy breakfast. To be able to keep your self control and work without losing your temper when under pressure or in stressful times, you need to be refuelled. The best foods for maintaining a steady self-control: nuts, raw fruit, cheese, fish, meat, and other good fats.
Learn why you should prioritise your goals, yet leave room for flexibility in your plans.
Sit up straight! We should all be sitting up straight. Why? This helps by overriding a slouching habit, strengthening willpower, so creating a desire to do better. Physical discipline leads to mental discipline and focus, which leads to sharper attention and more willpower. The strong get stronger.
One chapter is about the perfect storm of dieting.
I could go on. This book is a mine of golden nuggets. Brilliant. And for all those without willpower to read the whole book from the start there is a useful conclusion that summarises how to create and maintain your willpower.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I really wanted to like this book. It's a popular science book about research into the concept of will-power -apparently an idea which fell out of favour among psychologists for ages, but is now coming back into favour. I'd heard of Roy Bauermeister's research and know that he's a groundbreaking expert in the field. Similarly, I've read articles by James Tierney which I've enjoyed.
But somehow this collaborative effort fell flat for me. I think I'd read too many of the stories before, so it didn't hold my attention. Quite a few of Bauermeister's experiments are described in Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature, which I read immediately prior to this book. Pinker is hard to equal as a writer, so maybe I was spoiled.
Anyway, this book is short and probably quite interesting and gentle introduction to this topic - if you're a die-hard nerd who's already familiar with the research then the celebrity portraits grate a bit.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
I have read 1000's of books on the subject of success, law of attraction, motivation and wealth creation. I have been a business consultant, serial entrepreneur and motivational coach for a number of years. As such I have read many good and extremely poor books on motivation and willpower.
This book falls into the category of well worth reading and is a motivating read. It is 262 pages long with 10 chapters with content ranging from, defining willpower, decision fatigue, can willpower be strengthened, raising strong children and advice against dieting. This makes it a curious mix, looking at virtually all aspects and applications of willpower, within individual and family lives.
The book has three main aspects to it, it looks at why we may not stick to a task, why attractions can be distracting and how therefore to stick to your goals and get things done. From this point of view the book gives you some great tactics to do these things. Where I disagree with the two authors, is in their premise that the longer the day, the less willpower you will have, as your blood sugars are depleted. I am not saying this is wrong, but I have seen in my consultancy business, many many people work long days, in jobs they love and still have the energy to make great decisions.
For me the keys to success in this area of mind dynamics are, understanding what is holding you back....the emotional attachments from the past that deplete energy, identify faulty/victim thinking...which depletes energy, understand that willpower can be gained from mind training and that at the end of the day, if you are doing something you hate doing, your energy will be depleted anyway. A great great book I highly recommend to realise why you may lack willpower when dealing with life and career is, Whats Stopping You by Robert Kelsey. This book addresses the faulty thinking that depletes your energy and willpower and is simply brilliant. I think that the authors have confused willpower with fatigue and or problems associated with fears of failure and low self esteem.....all of which can deplete energy.
This book is worth reading and has some good ideas on goal setting/attaining and checking your progress towards success. I think the discussion about willpower and what depletes it, needs some serious widening to encompass other areas of mind dynamics, which also deplete energy and willpower. I do not agree with some of the authors presumptions. It should therefore also be read in conjunction with books that offer a broader analysis of why some people have issues with willpower, such as the one mentioned.
I like some of the ideas, but it lacks a wider analysis of the subject. Interesting as far as it goes.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2012
I felt let down by this book. It was marketed as a scientifically rigorous examination of an important part of our make-up. Instead, it comes across as firmly in the pop science/self help genre, complete with chirpy style and second hand anecdotes (Eliot Spitzer, H.M. Stanley, Oprah). Many people enjoy and even benefit from such books; but it does well to know what one is buying into.
Baumeister and Tierney argue that will power - the definition is vague but we know it when we see it, or perhaps more relevantly, when we fail to exercise it - is like a muscle. It depletes through over use and it may be strengthened through exercise. Within any depletion cycle, it is zero sum: if one uses it up being too effective at work, then one is more likely to be nasty to one's spouse or to take that second scoop of ice-cream after dinner.
There is a catalogue of things that enhance will-power: being Asian American (some evidence for genetics but mainly cultural), being part of a religious organization, being tidy and having good posture, being monitored, committing oneself publicly to a goal, keeping up one's blood sugar level etc. There is also a list of things that erode will power: sparing the rod (or its PC equivalent), alcohol, being hungry, PMS, being stressed or tired etc. In fact, just the things that Grandma told us about.
The authors draw on scientific evidence to back up Granny. There is relatively little discussion of genes and just a bit more on data drawn from brain scans. Most comes from the type of experiment in which a group of student volunteers is sealed in a room with a bowl of M & Ms, shown a depressing Continental movie and asked to stick their hands in ice-water or squeeze a handgrip. Not much chance of cloning a sheep or finding the Higgs Boson here. I often think that there is more to be learned about human psychology in reading the 37 plays of Shakespeare than in the entire library of the Psych faculty.
Towards the end of the book, the authors provide some suggestions as to how to improve one's exercise of willpower- pretty thin soup compared to the shelves of self-help books to be found in airport bookstores.
I was annoyed at myself for finishing the book rather than spending the time more fruitfully, but somehow I just couldn't get around to abandoning it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As someone who believes that self-control is the ultimate virtue, I was pleased to read this volume on willpower. The authors raise some relevant questions and do try to stimulate thought in the reader.
This book is worth reading just to familiarise yourself with such terms as `hyperbolic discounting' and `the quantified self'. The Dieters Catch-22 is also one to look out for.
This book will give you more questions than answers, but will definitely make you think about the evils of procrastination and the real value of deciding to do something and actually following through.
In parts the writing drifts a little and this is probably not a book to read when you are sleepy. All in all a worthwhile contribution to one's own self-analysis and quite rightly a good reminder to practice willpower and self-control.
This is not a great book, but the biggest thing against it is that it addresses a subject that the majority don't wish to believe; that alone means that it is definitely worth a read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I must first of all admit I read this book hoping for some tips on how to increase my own willpower and althought there was some tips this is not really a self help book this book is primarily and indepth annalysis of what willpower is, how it is depleated and when, and more on from that it is full of stories, experiments and tests and there results. I have to say I did learn a lot from this book, some of the basic information like we only have one source of willpower and if we use it up in day to day living (ie supressing the urge to shout at a useless co worker et) then when we get home that slice of chocolate cake is probably doomed. Glucose levels play a major part in willpower and selfcontrol further explained in detail and case in point how a woman craves chocolate when she is due on her cycle because her glucose suply has been re directed to her ovaries and thus depleating her willpower AND making her crave sugary snacks. This book is very very interesting although at times I did find myself having to re read a page becuase it can get a little deep at times. All in all this was not the book I was looking for however the 4 star rating is justified as I did find many of the tests and experiments and subsequently there findings very interesting indeed. If you can stick with this book this is a solid foundation for furhter reading of books that will give you tips, tasks and your own experiments that will help improve your own willpower whereas this books helps you understand the very science behind willpower and self control which lets be honest understanding something is the best chance you have of fixing it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Author's Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney have a wonderful way with words and can make 291 pages on one subject, Willpower, seem like a five minute read, at least, that's how it felt because I enjoyed it so much and read it very fast. Despite its 17 page introduction.
From the first chapter, "Is Willpower More than a Metaphor?" where we are encourged to think about lessons of perserverance and ego-depletion studies, we move to an interesting question, "Where does the Power in Willpower Come from?" a detailed look into what helps us to keep going to keep our self-control from weakening or making bad decisions. Is it in our genes? Or could it be the food we eat and the amount of sleep we get each night?
We also learn about the to-do list in "A Brief History of the To-Do List, from God to Dew Carey" , which explains how to-do lists are just another way to set clear guidelines if done correctly. We also meet the "Getting Things Done; The Art of Stress Free Productivity" guru, David Allen to find out what he would do to save time and energy. In the "Decision Fatigue" it's all about making the right decisions at the right time for the best results.
In chapter 5, "Where have all the Dollars Gone? The Quantified Self Knows" what is it in our brains that makes us a spendthrift or a penny-pinching tightwad?
This is followed by "Can willpower be strengthened? (Preferably without feeling David Baines's Pain)", is it a muscle that can be controlled and strengthened? and "Outsmarting Yourself in the Heart of Darkness" A reference to Joseph Conrad's book and the connections the authors make. What mental tricks to conserve willpower does David Blaine know that we don't?
In Chapter 8 we investigate " Did a Higher Power Help Eric Clapton and Mary Karr Stop Drinking?" or was willpower enough?
"Raising Strong Children; Self-Esteem versus Self-Control" is chapter nine's baby proving that despite claims, self-control is far more appropriate in raising strong children.
Finally, the chapter everyone was waiting for, "The Perfect Storm of Dieting". Exactly what is it that makes some people do well when losing weight, and others fail?
Closing with the conclusion "The Future of Willpower, More Gain, Less Strain, (as long as you don't procrastinate!) Saving time without missing out on fun, and the real affects of those with stronger willpower is brought to life. A treat for tired minds!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
While I didn't find much that was new within this book it was nonetheless an absorbing read. A lot of anecdotal evidence is given to show how willpower has been used to achieve things from the mundane to the spectacular. At the mundane end of the scale was advice on using willpower to help with problems such as over-eating, don't get too excited, apparently the key to this is to remove temptations from sight so that you trick your mind into not thinking about food! At the other end of the scale were insights into how David Blaine trains himself for some of the spectacular stunts that he performs.
The authors have pulled together a lot of very interesting material in this book - amongst the many subjects that are touched upon are psychology, history, medicine and finance. I do feel that some of the assertions are a bit questionable though - like the studies referred to that show a link between low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and poor self-control, and that go on to suggest that this condition is prevalent amongst the criminal classes - does this mean that once diagnosed as a diabetic you are more likely to become a criminal ?
I found the case of Henry Stanley (he of "Dr Livingstone, I presume" fame) very interesting, if only because I learnt some history that I was previously unaware of. But, in the end, I feel that the basic message of this book is much the same as many others - developing particular skills takes time, patience and plenty of practice. If you're looking for a short cut to improve your willpower don't bother reading this. However, if you're looking for a good read with lots of interesting facts etc. thrown in then this could be the book for you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was intrugued with the title. It suggested a return to good old-fashioned Willpower. Further reading about the book revealed it would be revisiting will-power with a fresh perspective and some good experiments on people's willpower.
I finished the book in 4 days. Recently I've stuggled to find a book in the self-help field to grip me long enough to complete. This book was just what I needed.
I will say upfront this is not a spoon-feeding book. It lays out the experiments, the findings and some observations. Any inquisitive adult will be able to piece together the value of the findings.
One of the most important findings in the book is willpower requires energy. Its all very well writing out a book about change this, create to do lists, focus on one thing etc but if you've run out of willpower-fuel its just going to crash and burn.
Our fuel for our bodies is essential to keep going. Making some shifts that are not ingrained in us requires extra energy to make the shift. If we overload ourselves with too many changes we burn out and then no change is made at all.
The key is to manage our energy source. Its also to be very aware of how much it takes out of us to make changes. If we burn a lot of fuel in other areas of our lives, just from day to day living, we have to understand that progress is going to slow down.
Each chapter shows how we tick as humans and how our brains function. It shows when we are vunerable to weakness and how to avoid it. Most experiments show the optimum way to operate in a given situation. But also at times there is more of a combination that works.
I didn't find any chapter boring. I didn't find the book too long either. I totally enjoyed the book. I love it because it connected with my inner sense of logic and I feel the experiments shown in the book make the findings more accurate.
There is a very interesting chapter on how to develop your willpower. Although developing willpower in one area will give you the strength to develop in another area, without a goal in mind things won't happen by themselves. A chapter on David Blaine's Houdini-like discipline and willpower shows that even with superhuman willpower you won't send the necessary documentation to claim you world record unless you have the discipline of completing your paperwork... I found this very true really. All goals need to be clearly defined and agreed upon in the first place.
There is a great chapter on dieting. How most people have great willpower even when overweight. All they need to do is understand how to avoid temptation and stay on a good path of gaining results week by week.
Once new habits have bedded in, they require very little energy to maintain. So there is the initial graft to bed them, but after that they are running themselves.
I decided to make a list of habits I'd like to ingrain. One of them is to keep my whole interior of my car clean. My business and my personal training means I usually keep more stuff in my car than most. Nothing expensive, just stuff like cardboard for wrapping parcels, parcel tape, gym accessories, spare towel, a few car cleaning items, yoga mat etc but my boot has until recently been a complete jumble of stuff. The same was inside the main area. So my new goal after spending two hours cleaning it, was zero tolerance of leaving stuff on the car seats, organising proper boxes in the boot. Its a work in progress but it feels great knowing anyone can just jump in and sense the car owner takes a bit of self-pride.
But the book explains why this behaviour exists. Using a study on students and their limited energy resources. There is a limited resource of energy to do things that are very difficult, like study. So tidy rooms is regarded as a unnecessary drain on energy.
The way out of the behaviour is to bed in new routines, a few at a time and then they don't drain the energy. They run themselves effortlessly.
There are some review comments about the explorer Morgan Stanley from the 19th century. I felt it demonstrated the use of a lot of the techniques in this book to keep up the momentum of exploring a very treacherous Africa at that time for years.