Reviewed January 9th 2016
What is willpower and where does it come from? I bought this book on January 1st; the day when people reflect on their past year and consider New Year resolutions. Often the problem with resolutions is that they can be easily broken. They have the right intentions, (cut down on alcohol, eat less junk food, make more time for exercise), yet they lack the ability to make things happen.
Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength clarifies preconceived ideas of willpower and utilises psychological theories, research experiments and scientific studies, put in laymen terms, to express what truly defines us, humans, from animals, (on top of our ability to rationalise our actions).
Although this may seem sound as if the book is suggesting that willpower is inside us, the book acknowledges and explains why it is harder to motivate ourselves and follow through with our goals, which are usually dependant on a variety of key factors i.e. timing, mind set, glucose levels, and more.
Sometimes, we give ourselves tall orders, make unrealistic goals, think too ambitiously and expect more from ourselves, which often leads to procrastinating, committing vices and depression. Essentially, we don’t know how to regulate our mental or physical willpower, and a lot of that is down to a lack of self-control.
Smart and progressive psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney explain how investing in self-control and self-maintenance can develop better relationships, build more confidence in ourselves and help us achieve our goals successfully. The book is insightful and unleashes some interesting findings, with results that often make sense. The research, sourced from a variety of sources, are also fruitful and suggest that there’s a lot to be gained from self-discipline, patience, eating when your energy is low (such as keeping an eye on your glucose level), and getting regular sleep.
Chapters are separated by different sections that touch on a range of willpower issues such as raising children, criminality, decision making, dieting and why women become emotional during their period. Overall, it’s a motivation book. Much of the advice is what we already know such as writing lists, surrounding ourselves with people in a similar situation as ourselves, discipline, changing our lifestyle to suit our needs and not stressing out if we fall off the wagon.
It’s also an easy read. You can get through it in a few days. It’s the thing to read every year, in the beginning of the year.