Willpower: Why Self-Control is The Secret to Success Paperback – 6 Sep 2012
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Willpower (the thing) lies at the curious intersection of science and behavior. Willpower (the book) lies at the intersection of Roy Baumeister, an extraordinarily creative scientist, and John Tierney, a phenomenally perceptive journalist. Ignore it at your peril (Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of 'Freakonomics' and 'SuperFreakonomics')
[An] instant classic...[Willpower shows how]...recent research can help people lead better lives - be better parents, stay organized, and lose weight more wisely...[A] brilliant book (Jamie Holmes Daily Beast)
An immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition (Steven Pinker New York Times Book Review)
An accessible, empirically grounded guide to willpower and how best to deploy it to overcome temptation...Should one need a more practical sales pitch for the importance of willpower, Messrs. Baumeister and Tierney point to ... its over-riding importance for academic, personal, career and financial success... Willpower offers no shortage of helpful strategies to compensate for weakness of will (Cordelia Fine Wall Street Journal)
Willpower affects almost every aspect of our lives...Tierney and Baumeister have given us a wonderful book in which they not only share fascinating research on the subject but also provide simple tricks to help us tap into this important quality (Dan Ariely, Duke University, author of 'Predictably Irrational')
Willpower is sinfully delicious -- once you start reading, you won't be able to stop. A fascinating account of the exciting new science of self-control (Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of 'Stumbling On Happiness')
As wonderfully entertaining as it is enlightening! Tierney and Baumeister have produced a highly intelligent work full of fascinating information (and great advice) about a core element of modern living. Bravo (David Allen, author of 'Getting Things Done and Making It All Work')
This little masterpiece is a must read for all of us who want to exercise, diet, manage our time, be thrifty, and resist temptation (Martin Seligman, University of Pennsylvania, former president of American Psychological Association, author of 'Authentic Happiness and Flourish')
This is a manual from heaven for anyone who has ever wanted to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, work more efficiently and more intelligently. An astonishingly good -- and accessible -- inquiry into one of the more elusive areas of human psychology (Christopher Buckley, author 'Thank You for Smoking' and 'Losing Mum and Pup')
Deep and provocative analysis of people's battle with temptation and masterful insights into understanding willpower: why we have it, why we don't, and how to build it. A terrific read (Ravi Dhar, Yale School of Management, Director of Center for Customer Insights)
A Guardian 2012 Literary Highlight (Guardian)
Willpower rather than self-esteem is the essential ingredient for a successful life...The good news, according to the authors, is that willpower, unlike intelligence, is a muscle that can be exercised and encouraged to grow...The book's success in America underlines its timeliness...I suspect that all the politicians currently talking about "alarm-clock Britain" will be studying this book closely...people could benefit from reading this book (Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times)
About the Author
Roy F Baumeister is one of the world's most prolific and influential psychologists. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1978 and currently is Francis Eppes Eminent Scholar and head of the psychology program at Florida State University. He has over 450 scientific publications, and this will be his 28th book.
John Tierney writes the Findings science column for the New York Times. His science writing has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics. He is the author of The Best-Case Scenario Handbook and the co-author, with Christopher Buckley, of the comic novel God Is My Broker. He is a frequent guest on US radio and television.
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Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength clarifies preconceived ideas of willpower and utilises psychological theories, research experiments and scientific studies, put in laymen terms, to express what truly defines us, humans, from animals, (on top of our ability to rationalise our actions).
Although this may seem sound as if the book is suggesting that willpower is inside us, the book acknowledges and explains why it is harder to motivate ourselves and follow through with our goals, which are usually dependant on a variety of key factors i.e. timing, mind set, glucose levels, and more.
Sometimes, we give ourselves tall orders, make unrealistic goals, think too ambitiously and expect more from ourselves, which often leads to procrastinating, committing vices and depression. Essentially, we don't know how to regulate our mental or physical willpower, and a lot of that is down to a lack of self-control.
Smart and progressive psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney explain how investing in self-control and self-maintenance can develop better relationships, build more confidence in ourselves and help us achieve our goals successfully. The book is insightful and unleashes some interesting findings, with results that often make sense. The research, sourced from a variety of sources, are also fruitful and suggest that there's a lot to be gained from self-discipline, patience, eating when your energy is low (such as keeping an eye on your glucose level), and getting regular sleep.
Chapters are separated by different sections that touch on a range of willpower issues such as raising children, criminality, decision making, dieting and why women become emotional during their period. Overall, it's a motivation book. Much of the advice is what we already know such as writing lists, surrounding ourselves with people in similar situations as ourselves, discipline, changing our lifestyle to suit our needs and not stressing out if we fall off the wagon.
It's also an easy read. You can get through it in a few days. It's the thing to read every year, in the beginning of the year.
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.
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.
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