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WILLPOWER: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength ~ Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney


Social Psychologist Roy Baumeister and John Tierney a New York Times Science writer have combined efforts to create a comprehensive study of the human resource known as WILLPOWER or self control – it is strength and wisdom.

This well written study has so many on target points and definitions that I can think of no one who would not benefit from reading and using the material in this book.  I am just concerned that those of us who truly NEED to read and use the material in this book are too distracted.

I hereby make this book an assignment of required reading with a 3 page paper about how you used this information in your life and how you persuaded someone you know to also read this book and use the material within its pages.

Well, that will never happen but it is certainly worth a try!

“The good news is that while self-control is biologically rooted, we have the capacity to manipulate our nature. Willpower features personal stories from entrepreneurs, executives, artists and parents who have managed to do just that. People like David Blaine, Eric Clapton, Mary Karr, and Oprah Winfrey offer life-changing lessons in the exercise of self-control.  Their experiences show that we can not only build willpower, but also conserve it for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best techniques for monitoring our progress. Once we establish the correct habits, willpower gets easier.”

I was fascinated that the research of Piers Steel, in the Procrastination Equation, was also cited in this work along with the Cornell Food Studies MINDLESS EATING by Brian Wansink.

Information Overload is definitely on our plates these days, and I believe we will be seeing many more of these books about self-control and how to organize and not waste our time and living.

We all have a willpower muscle.  I know, lots of counselors, teachers and advisers told us we did not have to use willpower to guide us or direct us.  For awhile it was just a matter of self-esteem and we distributed hugs, love pats, certificates, great grades, and praise by the bushel load to keep motivation at high levels.  OOPS!  We now know those things did not build our willpower and strength – they only contributed to our need to be exteriorly motivated.

Now we know, that to build our willpower we must process our accomplishments – doing the work, practicing and understanding what we do – the art of learning and thinking.   It is another inside job; the muscle is not built up by exterior praise, it is built from self-control, discipline, and achievements.

One of the stunning pieces of information sharing was that the willpower system of our bodies is the same one for each process we are undertaking.   So if you have used all your self-control at work or school all day, one needs to stop doing what they are doing and replenish their supply – refresh the muscle – before endeavoring onto another activity.

Here are some ways to built up your WILLPOWER Muscle and renew your strength:

  • Understand how you body uses glucose and what is the best source of glucose for you
  • “Preconditions” – have a list of what you are going to accomplish and then sticking to it when something depletes your reserve supplies.  I do this by making a menu plan for the week, and preparing all the food for the week on one day; having the right sized plates and bowls – so I am not tempted to wander or binge
  • Find a system/discipline which works for you and use it regularly – use this system to prioritize emails, time, meetings, and interactions – create flexible boundaries and have a plan B and plan C to draw upon.
  • Find Gratitude and pleasure in your successes and accomplishments
  • EXERCISE regularly – when you think you do not have time is when you need it the most.
  • Know how you PROCRASTINATE and what are your cues and stimulus.  Recognize DECISION FATIGUE  -“People have a hard time giving up options even when the options are not doing them any good.”

I need to stop here, this book is 304 pages of easy to read and understand words about how to recognize the strengths of your willpower and how to use information and strengthen this muscle unit so it becomes one of your greatest assets.

Parents this is another skill that children need to learn.  This book is about teaching children to have their greatest success and creativity.

I believe we will be seeing lots of books emerging in this area because we are a society right now without a great deal of self-control and we are easily distracted and by such inconsequential “Bling”.

tlclogoI am so happy that TLC book tours and The Penguin Press asked me to read and share this book with you.   I enjoyed it very much and as I like to try on and integrate the ideas from books, I thought this was another wise choice and I recommend it to you.
5 Ladybugs

If you purchase anything from Amazon from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Giveaway: of this book will happen on  September 12,2011 and chosen by a drawing from the comments section of this post.

If you liked what you read here you might also enjoy my other sites:  Wise Ears and Biking Architect

Do you have a book that inspires you to make change?  Do you think it does a body good to strengthen your willpower?  What is your greatest tool?

Related Reading:
The Social Animal
We Have Met The Enemy
You Are Not Your Brain

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16 Responses to “WILLPOWER: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength ~ Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney”

  1. J.D. Meier Says:

    It’s a catchy title and a great topic for focus.

    While I wish we all just always felt like doing the right things or doing the things that are good for us, felt good, that’s a pipe dream.

    I do think willpower will always have a place in our toolkit for leading a better life, especially for dealing with the setbacks or pains along the way.

    patricia Reply:

    I think these authors have figured out how to give us some easy, easy steps to help us strengthen this muscle and thus make it even more useful a tool….One of their solutions and practice points is very similar to Agile Results – your book….and I was happy to say that I was already doing your program…

    When procrastination cause 30 Billion dollars in lost productivity a year – not to mention weight and health issues…I think we need more recognition of how to use our willpower…

    I even loved the feel of the cover of this book :)
    And it surely made me appreciate my Mother’s 40 years of teaching first grade – we seemed to have lost her skill

  2. rob white Says:

    This was an intriguing and informative review, Patricia. I love the idea of thinking of Willpower as a muscle that needs exercising. I can see how this has been true in my own life. It’s vital to keep our sight on inspiring aims; anything less, and life feels like a mess. That’s because we are naturally ambitious. We must learn to trust and hone our ability. This comes with daily “exercise” and rightly understanding our incredible potential. Our lives feel like nothing when we turn our mind into a battlefield that destroys our ambitious nature.
    rob white recently posted..How Do I Inspire Myself?My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    It was a great book to read and I am so happy they let me start the tour with this one- it is a gem.

    Very important to keep practicing until we figure something out – that builds the muscle stronger – helps us earn our way and inspires our ambitious nature and I believe makes living a much more fun adventure

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Strength and wisdom — an unbeatable combination!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Ties that BindMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    It is an unbeatable combination and quite an interesting book to read.

  4. Ken Wert Says:

    Sounds like an important work. It is now on my list of books to buy and read! Thank you for introducing it, Patricia!

    All our spiritual, moral, and emotional gifts come at the end of a lot of hard work. That work builds those muscles to the point that they are strong enough to serve us in our various pursuits in life.

    I was always sad when the self-esteem movement pushed the will-power ethos out the door. I think we lost something, as this study seems to validate.

    Thanks for the wonderful review!
    Ken Wert recently posted..22 Lessons Learned “When Sorrow Walked with Me”My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Ken Wert,
    Welcome to Patricias Wisdom and thank you for your great comment.

    The last several books I have reviewed are all saying in various ways and through various studies that we need to find the basic systems that are a part of us and rather than ignore them we need to strengthen them.

    This was a very good book and I enjoyed sharing it with folks
    Glad you put it on your reading list
    Thank you for your kind words
    Patricia recently posted..WILLPOWER: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength ~ Roy F. Baumeister & John TierneyMy Profile

  5. Jannie Funster Says:

    Hey, Dear Patricia,

    lol my eyes at first read “Information Overlord” is on our plates these days, instead of overload. There’s an overlord on my plate and he’s dressed like Darth Vader. :)

    Love seeing those 5 ladybugs, so pretty together for a book that sounds great!

    I actually did quite a bit of good work today, maybe 4 hours after feeling I was distracted and goofing off yesterday. When I look back at how my work went I can see I was paying attention to sticking to a general goal, tho I had not written it down. I did feel grateful and got pleasure for my little successes. And had walked a block earlier in the day! Exercise is such an important key, as you know.

    Hey, what did Erric Clapton say?? He is a Guitar God.


    Patricia Reply:

    Hey Jannie,
    You are so busy, I am surprised to find you here tonight – I sure do appreciate you stopping by…
    Darth Vader wow!

    This book is very, very good and even I learned a great deal from reading it…since I read so many self-development books this is saying a great deal. I think this is important information for parenting these days and helping the young adults that are totally distracted from their life purpose.

    Eric Clapton’s story is about his struggles with alcoholism and after he strengthened his will power with help and the surrender to the Holy Spirit when his toddler son fell out of their apt. window to his death Clapton was not called upon to start drinking again – and yes he is an awesome guitar man :)

  6. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia! Great review! Mine is coming up – loved the book too! You’re right, anyone could benefit from this – haha – I love your assignment with the 3-pg paper! Yeah, if only….

    Patricia Reply:

    I saw you were on the list…I was happy to go first this time, because I will not read someone’s review until I have my own completed…including the paper copy that comes with the book…

    This book was truly a good one…
    I can always try with the assignment..

    :) I often do those things so maybe there are a few folks out there like me…I do think it needs to be assigned reading for college students, but then I could not get one of my own to take the college success class and she knew better and nearly flunked out…yikes
    All these professors and teachers out there are trying to get people to focus and learn….we have a real problem of catastrophic proportions.
    Patricia recently posted..KISS and TellMy Profile

  7. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I love your idea of making this required reading AND requiring a 3-page pager as well! Not sure anyone will take you up on it but it definitely shows how much you appreciated this book.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    patricia Reply:

    I enjoyed being part of the tour and I thought it was a worthy book for assigned reading – Thanks for having me kick off this tour

  8. EdenSol Says:

    Hi Patricia

    Informative review. I think willpower is very important to our success. This seems a worthy read! Thanks for the recommendation.

    patricia Reply:

    I thought this was a powerful book and well written and It was so important for me to understand that we only have one willpower system for everything we undertake… it is vital to our success…

    …and smiling just makes the trip much better all round.