Thursday, April 5, 2012

thoughts on: Willpower, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human StrengthWillpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister

Baumeister and Tierney make an excellent case for good old fashioned self control. They share numerous research studies on willpower, showing how it can be depleted and strengthened, as well as several case studies - how real people (celebrities, but, to be honest, I had not heard of most of them) exercise their willpower to succeed.

I enjoy reading about psychology research, even more so when it confirms what I already believed. (Who doesn't like be proven right?) Baumeister and his fellow psychologists have learned, through trial after trial, that their 20th century theories on self esteem and performance were all wrong, and it is working hard and applying oneself that leads to higher performance and esteem. Good old common sense and traditional values prevail in the findings on willpower. Apparently, making our beds, sitting up straight, not procrastinating, and being habitually orderly free up our brains to do the right thing when presented with the opportunity to choose otherwise. Sloppy habits and unfinished projects drain us, and we are more apt to make bad decisions from the fatigue. 

Personally, I felt affirmed in some areas, and convicted in others.  I am going to implement some of the strategies towards forming more good habits.  Researchers have learned that habits and routines, once ingrained, do not require willpower.  If you always floss every night, you don't struggle with yourself every night over whether you need better hygiene or more sleep or have non-flossing fear of losing your teeth taking up brainspace.

So, yes, a lot of common sense in Willpower, and the authors apply it to several areas - the workplace, parenting, addictions, dieting, and jungle exploration. (The chapter on Stanley in Africa was fascinating; now I want to read a book about him.) However, as they say, common sense is not so common, and this book is well worth reading if you need a boost towards reducing your stress and getting more done. I can't think of anyone who doesn't want that.

1 comment:

Missus Wookie said...

This is already on my to read list - thanks for the review :)

Habits is there too - have you read that one?