Emily's Reviews > Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister
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Oct 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in October, 2011

This book reveals counterintuitive research results about willpower, and I'd probably give it five stars (for being "perspective changing") if I hadn't already been brought up with this perspective. This book explores self-control and willpower, as opposed to impulsiveness and the cult of self-esteem. It discusses how willpower is necessary for avoiding all sorts of damaging and distracting temptations that prevent people from being happy, and shows that that willpower can be strengthened. Most of all, it talks about how willpower is finite and can be depleted by having to resist lots of temptations, and can be bolstered with good sleep and healthy food. Dieting, in this account, is a cruel joke in which you deprive yourself of the very food you need... to resist the temptation to eat. One phenomenon that stood out for me was what the authors call "what the hell"--when you break some resolution you've made, you figure you've screwed up for the day, so you blow off the rule entirely. They discuss this in regard to dieting but as someone who recently needed to buy a coat... and a blouse and a dress and a pair of pants, it felt pretty familiar.

I've read several other psychology books that try to bring together research and advice on being happier, which I suppose is a bit pointless as I am basically happy to begin with. This is the most successful, both in terms of its recency and the way it manages to draw some conclusions from the research without turning into a self-help book.
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