I just finished reading Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, and you should, too. It had been a while since I read a self-improvement book because I’ve read so many years back that I thought I pretty much already knew more than I was willing to implement anyway. But Willpower is different. It has fresh insights backed up with a lot of research. (That part will be a turn-off if you are bored by science; just skim over those parts.) This book actually answered a lot of questions I was puzzling about. Here are some highlights:

Intelligence and self-control are the two most important traits that predict “success,” and self-control is easier to improve.

It gives the right amount of information about the history and trends of society’s attitudes about self-control. Did we get down on self-control because Hitler was up on it?

Self-control is in; unconditional self esteem is out. Instilling self-control in children is a big advantage to them.

Why does every society have words in their language that everyone knows but no one is supposed to ever say?

Having people try to monitor and control their behavior in some areas (dressing neat, not slouching, not saying bad words, keeping to a schedule) gives them more self-control in other areas almost instantly (two weeks in one study).

There is a lot of practical advice for one to improve his or her own self-control.

I hope to apply it to make some difficult behavioral changes in my own life and I’m already doing some minor things differently.

Thank you, Baumeister and Tierney.

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One thought on “Willpower

  1. That sounds like a great book. I need to order one now. If only I had the will power to do so…

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