Can you resist everything except temptation? In a hedonistic age full of distractions, it's hard to possess willpower - or in fact even understand why we should need it. Yet it's actually the most important factor in achieving success and a happy life, shown to be more significant than money, looks, background or intelligence. This book reveals the secrets of self-control.
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.
Based on years of psychological research and filled with practical advice, this book will teach you how to gain from self-control without pain, and discover the very real power in willpower. The results are nothing short of life-changing.
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.