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Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strengthby Roy Baumeister
Synopses & Reviews
In Willpower, pioneering research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control. Drawing on cutting-edge research and the wisdom of real-life experts, Willpower shares lessons for how to focus our strength and redirect our lives.
In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower in fact has a physical basis and 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).
Yet while there are natural limits to our self-control, these boundaries can be manipulated. We can build our willpower endurance, and Willpower draws lessons from the lab as well as the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists —including David Blaine, Amanda Palmer, Drew Carey, Eric Clapton, Mary Karr, and Oprah Winfrey. Willpower explains how to set realistic goals (there really is a science to the to-list list), how to monitor your progress (so that you can reward yourself often), and how to keep faith even when you falter. Once you establish the right habits, and find the techniques that work for you, 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.
In today’s digital world, where temptation is never more than a click away, it can feel as if self-control is under constant siege. But, as Willpower shows, we also have more knowledge and better tools for taking control of our lives. We can outsource the task to new technologies and social networks that will monitor our money, our weight, and just about anything else that concerns us. By blending practical wisdom with the best of research science, Willpower makes clear that whatever we seek—a close-knit family, a satisfying career, financial security, good health, the freedom to pursue our passions — we won’t reach our goals without first learning to harness self-control.
"Willpower, or self-control, is one of the keys to success, says Baumeister (director of Florida State University's social psychology program) and New York Times science writer Tierney. They review the latest research to report key findings on willpower: for instance, each of us has a finite supply of it and deplete it whenever we draw on it, whether at work or at home, but it can be developed and strengthened. Further, decision making in particular saps that supply, but it's possible to do willpower exercises to gain self-control over all sorts of bad behavior, from overeating to physical violence; willpower exercises have been shown to work with domestic abusers, for example. At several points throughout the book, and in a concluding chapter, the authors offer practical advice for increasing willpower, not much of which is new (for instance, setting realistic goals in dieting), but all of which bears repeating. Baumeister and Tierney have produced a very fine work — clear and succinct, based on solid research, and with good anecdotal material about magician/performance artist David Blaine, singer Eric Clapton, and writers Anthony Trollope and Raymond Chandler, among others. This should prove helpful for those who are trying to make and keep resolutions. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Outstanding . . . read this book.” —David Logan, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Tribal Leadership
To ensure our survival, the human brain evolved to react to immediate physical danger. In todays world we are more comfortable than ever, yet we still find ourselves at the mercy of this ancient fear response. Though mild discomforts such as getting stuck in traffic or dealing with conflict are not real threats to our survival, they trigger the brains fight-or-flight fear reaction, causing addictions, overeating, insomnia, phobias, and rapid aging. Dr. Marc Schoen offers eye-opening insights and practical strategies for improving every aspect of our lives.
Pioneering research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control. Drawing on cutting-edge research and the wisdom of real-life experts, Willpower shares lessons on how to focus our strength, resist temptation, and redirect our lives. It shows readers how to be realistic when setting goals, monitor their progress, and how to keep faith when they falter. By blending practical wisdom with the best of recent research science, Willpower makes it clear that whatever we seek—from happiness to good health to financial security—we won’t reach our goals without first learning to harness self-control.
About the Author
ROY F. BAUMEISTER directs the social psychology program at Florida State University. He has written more than 450 scientific publications and consistently ranks among the world’s most frequently cited psychologists.
JOHN TIERNEY writes the “Findings” science column for the New York Times. His writing has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics. This is his third book.
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