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Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human StrengthWillpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A wonderful exploration of willpower. The book reads easily and includes many references to research performed by the authors and many other scientists. It opens with the history of the discovery of willpower and that willpower is a limited but renewable resource. Next it dives into how humans can survive this depletion of willpower and most importantly setup conditions to remove the need to use willpower in the first place. Most encouraging the book concludes with a review of why willpower matters and the various techniques to strengthen it.



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My notes are below.

  • Willpower in children is biggest indicator of future success. [10]
  • 1. You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. 2. You use the same stock of willpower of all manner of tasks. [35]
  • No glucose, no willpower. [49]
  • Zeigarnik effect: The unconscious is asking the conscious mind to make a plan. [83]
  • Keeping options open leads to long-term problems. [102]
  • For contentment it pays to look at how far you've come. For motivation and ambition focus on the road ahead. [120]
  • Any willpower exercise strengthens overall willpower. [137]
  • Precommitment: lock yourself into a virtuous path. [151]
  • Successful precommitment can turn into something permanent: a habit. [154]
  • Self-control turned out to be most effective when people used it to establish good habits and break bad ones. [157]
  • "Why" questions push the mind up to higher levels of thinking and a focus on the future. "How" questions bring the mind down to low levels of thinking and a focus on the present. [164]
  • A personal goal can seem more real once you speak it out loud, particularly if you know the audience will be monitoring you. [177]
  • Hyperbolic discounting: We can ignore temptations when they're not immediately available, but once they're right in front of us we lose perspective and forget our distant goals. [184]
  • Bright lines: clear, simple, unambiguous rules. [185]
  • High self-esteem increases initiative and it feels good. [192]
  • Set clear goals, enforce rules, punish failure, and reward excellence. [197]
  • Three basic facets of punishment: severity, speed, and consistency. [199]
  • What-the-hell effect, once a goal is blown people over do it. [221]
  • The willpower depleted state makes you feel everything more intensely than usual. [227]
  • Better to say Later rather than Never. [237]
  • Set three goals each week, can't work on anything else until those are done. Review each each. [251]
  • When you set a goal, set a reward for reaching it-and then don't stiff yourself. [257]

Tags: books

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