Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

by Roy F. Baumeister , John Tierney

Number of pages: 304

Publisher: Penguin

BBB Library: Psychology and Strengths, Personal Success

ISBN: 978-0143122234

About the Authors

Roy F. Baumeister : Roy F. Baumeister is one of the world's most prolific and


John Tierney : John Tierney is a science writer. He is a contributing editor


Editorial Review

Pioneering research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control. Drawing on cutting-edge research and the wisdom of real-life experts, Willpower shares lessons on how to focus our strength, resist temptation, and redirect our lives. It shows readers how to be realistic when setting goals, monitor their progress, and how to keep faith when they falter. By blending practical wisdom with the best of recent research science, Willpower makes it clear that whatever we seek—from happiness to good health to financial security—we won’t reach our goals without first learning to harness self-control.

Book Reviews

“Whatever your vices — and, face it, we’ve all got them— this book offers insights grounded in sound, careful research that can help you understand why your will power is battling you and how you can turn it your way.“ —Washington Post

“’Willpower’ is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition.” —The New York Times

“In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Baumeister and coauthor John Tierney detail the experiments Baumeister conducted in his laboratory, share the results, and highlight their implications. The result is a fascinating and useful, if sometimes maddening, book—one that shows how using willpower effectively is essential to achieving ‘a happy family, good friends, a satisfying career, robust health, financial security, [and] the freedom to pursue your passions.’” — The Objective Standard

“Willpower is an important book, deserving of a wide audience, for its message is relevant to all. Willpower is highly relevant to all motivated, ambitious individuals who aspire to excellence. This book is especially valuable for leaders of any enterprise aspiring to excellence delivered as a consequence of disciplined, reliable performance under exacting circumstances.” —New York Journal of Books

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Wisdom to Share

You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.

You use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.

Willpower is much more than a metaphor. It’s a muscle that could be fatigued through use.

Much of self-control is about integrating behavior over time—passing up immediate gratification for future benefits—so playing a game over several days helps toddlers to start thinking longer-range.

Prolonged dramatic play with other children also requires them to exert control over attention and sustain make-believe roles. Even simple pretend games like playing house or soldiers obligate toddlers to stay in character and to follow the game's rules when interacting with other children.

If you're serious about controlling your weight, you need the discipline to follow these three rules: a. Never go on a diet. b. Never vow to give up chocolate or any other food. c. Whether you're judging yourself or judging others, never equate being overweight with having weak willpower.

Evolution favored people who could survive famines, so once a body has gone through the experience of not getting enough to eat, it reacts by fighting to keep all the pounds it has. When you diet, your body assumes there's a famine and hangs on to every fat cell it can.

Instead of going for a quick weight loss today, you're better off using your self-control to make gradual changes that will produce lasting effects, and you have to be especially careful in your strategies.

When you try to ignore unfinished tasks, your unconscious keeps fretting about them in the same way that an ear worm keeps playing an unfinished song. You can't banish them from your brain by procrastinating or by willing yourself to forget them. But once you make a specific plan, your unconscious will be mollified.