Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength

Roy F Baumeister, John Tierney

Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength

For years the old-fashioned, even Victorian, value of willpower has been disparaged by psychologists who argued that we're largely driven by unconscious forces beyond our control. Here Roy Baumeister, one of the world's most esteemed and influential psychologists, and journalist John Tierney, turn this notion on its head. They show us that willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice and improved over time. The latest laboratory work shows that self-control has a physical basis to it and so is dramatically affected by simple things such as eating and sleeping - to the extent that a life-changing decision may go in different directions depending on whether it's made before or after lunch. You will discover how babies can be taught willpower, the joys of the to-don't list, the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, the pointlessness of diets and the secrets to David Blaine's stunts. There are also fascinating personal stories, from explorers, students, soldiers, ex-addicts and parents. 2.9 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format Hardback
Pages 304
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-1846143502
Publisher Allen Lane
 

For years the old-fashioned, even Victorian, value of willpower has been disparaged by psychologists who argued that we're largely driven by unconscious forces beyond our control. Here Roy Baumeister, one of the world's most esteemed and influential psychologists, and journalist John Tierney, turn this notion on its head. They show us that willpower is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice and improved over time. The latest laboratory work shows that self-control has a physical basis to it and so is dramatically affected by simple things such as eating and sleeping - to the extent that a life-changing decision may go in different directions depending on whether it's made before or after lunch. You will discover how babies can be taught willpower, the joys of the to-don't list, the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, the pointlessness of diets and the secrets to David Blaine's stunts. There are also fascinating personal stories, from explorers, students, soldiers, ex-addicts and parents.

Reviews

The New York Times

Steven Pinker

In general, the authors tilt their presentation toward human interest rather than science … Nonetheless, “Willpower” is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition.

02/09/2011

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The Sunday Times

Daisy Goodwin

I suspect that all the politicians currently talking about “alarm-clock Britain” will be studying this book closely. But while the return to Victorian self-determinism is refreshing, we should also remember its flip side — such as the callous attitude of the British goverment to the Irish potato famine of 1847, which they blamed on the Irish peasant’s failure “to regulate his behaviour”. Most people could benefit from reading this book, so long as they remember that self-control is no substitute for compassion.

15/01/2012

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The Observer

Carole Cadwalladr

They also bravely wade into the potentially explosive issue of child-raising. Low self-esteem isn't what holds children back, they claim; it's low self-control. Over-praise your child, they seem to suggest, and you're setting him or her up for a life of obesity and alcohol abuse.

29/01/2012

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The Guardian

Will Self

Before I read Willpower I was an Odysseus who needed no lashing to the mast of life. Temptations? I laughed in their face. If you presented me with a stark naked and lascivious Kate Moss, her belly-button brimming over with Peruvian flake cocaine, I would simply have told her to rub in the talcum powder then cover up. But having read the damn book, I am now plagued by a dreadful impulsiveness — my fervid brain tracks across the over-lit realms of modern indulgence on the lookout for newer and more dangerous forms of abandonment.

21/01/2012

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