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Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength Paperback – August 28, 2012
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"The psychologist Roy F. Baumeister has shown that the force metaphor has a kernel of neurobiological reality. In Willpower, he has teamed up with the irreverent New York Timesscience columnist John Tierney to explain this ingenious research and show how it can enhance our lives. . . . Willpower is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition."—Steven Pinker, The New York Times Book Review
"An accessible, empirically grounded guide to willpower and how best to deploy it to overcome temptation."—The Wall Street Journal
"Willpower is sure to inspire further groundbreaking research into the mechanics of willpower. One implication is already apparent. Since repeated behaviors eventually turn into habits, improving willpower long term requires a unique strategy-a habit of changing habits, of continually expanding our zones of comfort. One such practice, it seems, is the 'routine' of learning. That's a habit that this brilliant book will certainly nourish."—The Daily Beast
"Baumeister and Tierney use their appealingly upbeat voice to explain the intricate call-and-response between the failure of self-control and its problematical results."—Kirkus Reviews
"Willpower affects almost every aspect of our lives. From procrastination, to saving for retirement to exercising, 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, told by the scientist who made it happen and the journalist who made it news."—Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness
"Who knew that a book about such a daunting topic could be 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 Work
"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
"Will, willpower, and mental energy have been shunned by modern psychology. Roy Baumeister, the most distinguished experimental social psychologist in the world, and John Tierney, a renowned journalist, have teamed up to put Will back into its rightful center stage place. 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, former president of American Psychological Association
"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: why we go on thwarting ourselves when we really know better. On top of that, Willpower is a vastly entertaining book, full of fascinating stories about the complexities of our evolutionarily-wired brains. A brilliant accomplishment, at every level."—Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking
"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
About the Author
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.
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143122231
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143122234
- Dimensions : 5.46 x 0.77 x 8.43 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 28, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #52,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This one? It's top. Absolute top.
Some of my favorite quotes:
"Forget about self-esteem. Work on self-control."
"Most major problems, personal and social, center on failure of self-control."
I found this to be one of most effective portions of the book:
"The result suggests that telling yourself 'I can have this later' operates in the mind a bit like having it now. It satisfies the craving to some degree—and can be even more effective at suppressing the appetite than actually eating the treat...the ones who'd postponed pleasure ate even less than the people who had earlier allowed themselves to eat the candy at will."
“When the dessert cart arrives, don't gaze longingly at forbidden treats. Vow that you will eat all of them sooner or later, but just not tonight. In the spirit of Scarlett O'Hara, tell yourself: Tomorrow is another taste.”
So why five stars? I'd give it 4.5 if I could because the wordiness is a bit much, but the message behind the book, the approaches to rectify certain things, etc. are really quite amazing, and an incredibly fresh outlook on things. There are easy changes to make with profound effects and you really just don't get that out of books these days.
But this is not what I find disappointing. My deal breaker is the writers never give any credit reference to many studies they mentioned in the book. Therefore readers who are not familiar with this field (psycho-study) will find it difficult to expand their knowledge beyond the book. Such as;
- "New Zealand study published 2010" : Fortunately I watched the well-done TV documentary on this study from BBC, it's called "Dunedin Longevity Study". Why this book never bothers to mention the true name of the study? I don't know.
- "Walter Mischel study on marshmallow and children" : the book neither gives credit of the study name nor year and place. Fortunately I read the paper about it before. It's "the Bing Study" done at Princeton University campus in 1966 and later called "the Marshmallow Test" for the first time by the New York Times.
The book doesn't bother to mention the initial goal of this study. ("The initial goal of the experiment was to identify the mental processes that allowed some people to delay gratification while others simply surrendered." (The New Yorker : Don’t! The secret of self-control. By Jonah Lehrer in May 18, 2009)) And it even gave wrong information about the times scheduled in the study as "15 minutes". In fact, it was not. The time schedules were varied to each young kid. From 5-15 minutes.
- "Baumeister study"
It was mentioned in almost every page in the introduction. Who's Baumeister? Is it the name of the study, institution or a person name? No clues, whatsoever. I just realized it's the name of the author when I searched for the study. So why don't they write "Roy Baumeister" or "the author" to be specific?
- "Beaumeister career in social phycology in 1970's at Princeton" : It made me so confused since he was born in 1953, how can he became a psychologist at Princeton at age 17??? (Why the writers didn't give the exact year right away? I don't know why.)
*These are only a few examples that make me find this book disappointing, both in emotional sense and information sense.*
Top reviews from other countries
It's pretty academic and sparse in terms of actionable knowledge which is easily accessible.
Finished it barely and felt pretty bored.
Buy McGonigal's book instead for easy access covering similiar points.
Its primary conclusion is that we have a finite amount of willpower, and if aware of this, can make better decisions and effectively conserve it for the important "stuff" and recognise when we have depleted our reserves and take need to take action to charge up again. It also provides research observations and evidence which you are likely to find explain some of the behaviours you have engaged in from time to time but never understood, which is generally my test of whether a book like this is worth reading.
It is a well researched book but written in a very readable style which comes us up with some surprising evidence and conclusions, at the same time as giving straightforward advice on how to conserve/effectively use willpower while not beating yourself up because you can't be supremely efficient all the time.
One of the things I do like about it is that it doesn't pretend to offer a "silver bullet". I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a little bit more done with a little less stress.