Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength: Willpower
By: Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
Baumeister and Tierney created a dynamic understanding of willpower and self-control. This book took a wildly studied concept in social science and gave its readers comprehension of the many facets it holds. Throughout the book the authors’ wisdom of the topic is explored using scientific research and experimentation. This book contains a broad range of different applications of willpower and self-control, such as the importance of diet in chapter two or setting goals in chapter three. Furthermore, a few more topics that are discussed in the reading consist of how willpower diminishes when a person has low glucose or how self-control can be compromised during the process of overcoming goals. This book provides extensive examples of personal stories of people where some of them had triumphs and others had failures. This book concludes with advice related to each of the ten chapters in the book explaining to the reader different ways to improve their willpower and self-control.
It was difficult to chose my favorite part of the book because I enjoyed reading it very much. I would have to say chapter six about David Blaine is my favorite. I hardly knew anything about Blaine before reading this book. He is truly an anomaly in this world. This chapter brings the idea of strengthening willpower to light. The book had previously discussed in earlier chapters a woman named Amanda Palmer who would stand on a box in times square with no movements for long periods of time in order to make income. However, Blaine takes this ideal to a different planet. According to Baumeister and Tierney (2011),
“he stood for thirty-five hours more than eighty feet about New York’s Bryant Park, he spent sixty-three sleepless hours in Times Square encased in a giant block of ice. He was entombed in a coffin with six inches above his head for a week.” (p.124-125).
All of this seems inhumanly possible to accomplish, but somehow Blaine has accomplished the impossible. This resonates with me because when things seem impossible it is easy to be your own worst enemy and give up without even starting. Blaine had been training himself to withstand extreme conditions from a young age. The accomplishment of these goals previously discussed did not happen overnight, he trained to be able to complete his goals. This is my favorite part because it is a clear reminder success does not happen overnight and the impossible is possible.
The lecture slides: impulsivity and self-control relate to chapter six of this book. The peirs steel: the procrastination equation helps confirm my point. The chance of an outcoming occurring and the value are the reason we do things. Blaine needed to measure his expectancy against his value and decide if it was worth taking the risk. As stated in the lecture notes self-control is the result of conflicting outcomes. Blaine had to keep composure when self-control was being tested during his feats in order to accomplish his ultimate goals. The outcome that had more gain for him was his reasons for pushing past his weak points.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oXAeKoS2RU (this is a short clip of David Blaine in Times Square encased in a block of ice)
This topic of learning how to control willpower and improve self-control will always be a current issue. Every human being has issues with willpower it is in our nature. It is really the issue at hand that may be different. Some issues may be related to shopping, diet, exercise, work, etc. the list certainly could go on forever. It is important to constantly be improving yourself to become a stronger person. This book brings a overview to the issue that helps its readers understand the concept and help encourage different ways to strengthen their willpower and themselves. A personal example of how this book has helped me was reading about glucose levels. Also, the importance of having a healthy diet and the repercussions of having a bad one, especially during a menstrual cycle. Related to that I also learned the fast fixes of sugar provide a boom and bust effect, which means the chocolate provides you with instant energy but lasts a short amount of time. Where as, protein such as a piece of chicken may take a longer amount of time to give you energy but will give you energy that lasts. This book can help solve real-world problems.
All in all, this book is a great read and I would highly recommend it. I thought it may be to much of telling me what to do and less informative. However, it was not, it provided me with a clear-cut understanding of willpower and self-control and how I can improve my own.