Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Willpower Book Report

The book Willpower by Roy Baumeister was an easy to read novel that presented a lively point of view. Throughout the book the author used language that not only captured your attention but was also clear and realistic. The use of studies, like the radish experiment and the study of the Zeigarnik effect, were smoothly incorporated that it was hard to believe I was enjoying something that I would read for a class. The book discusses how willpower is a finite resource and we can both increase and deplete our reserves. Attempting to control one’s thoughts and emotions depletes willpower and depletion amplifies cravings and emotions and thus it is cyclic in nature. Being sick and making decisions also depletes your willpower. In order to restore this willpower one should diet and exercise, incorporate more glucose into the diet; glucose is claimed to be fuel for willpower. Getting eight hours of sleep and maintaining a clean room is advised. The author also incorporates concepts of being more mindful, for example keeping past failures and the future in mind help to keep a person on track by stimulating motivation and ambition. It would also be in one’s favor to keep like goals as conflicting goals add to anxiety and depression while depleting willpower and potentially cause physical sickness.  Lastly, it is very important to commit to a goal because it decreases the chances of succumbing to temptation.

            My favorite portion of the book lies within the conclusion. A close second to the Twilight reference on page 206, I preferred the conclusion because it is looking to solve the problem of diminished willpower and how to shape the future. I also appreciate the brutal honesty when it comes to procrastination because I am often very guilty of it. The conclusion also warns people against the dangers of the planning fallacy. For a procrastinator like myself who expects to get everything done quickly at the last minute the planning fallacy is my worst nightmare. This section gives you good  tips on how to stay on top of your goals like making to do lists or avoiding the planning fallacy by always being self-aware of past mistakes. It was a relief to know that procrastination can be beneficial when it’s in the form of positive procrastination. There have been a few times that I can recall that I was able to accomplish an assignment by pushing off my thoughts of fun; for example throughout reading this novel I had to prioritize and tell myself I could go out after I finished one more chapter. That’s positive procrastination and I wasn’t even aware I was doing that until after reading this book.  
Shoes must be tucked away and pillow placed to the right.

            Another fact that I found I could relate to was that of keeping a room clean. I find that when I am stressed out or feeling overwhelmed cleaning comforts me.  The book states that a clean room gives off the sense of self control and that resonates with me. When the world seems to be hectic and I have no power over the little things a clean environment eases my tension. Perhaps unconsciously I’m thinking if I can tame my messy room what is stopping me from taming all my homework or facing my finances. In fact before I was able to sit down and focus on this report I had to organize my shoes and put everything in its proper place.

Books need to be in size order on side table.

Everything even trash bags have a spot.
            In order to relate this book to the topics covered in class I would like to refer to the Marshmallow Test observed in the first section of the slides. In the Marshmallow Test video we see children left in a room seemingly by themselves. These children are left with a marshmallow and are told they can either have the marshmallow now or they can wait to receive the second one. Some of the children had the marshmallow in their mouths before the instructor even left the room whereas some could wait. The child is torn between the instant gratification of having one marshmallow now or wait for an unknown period of time for a second marshmallow. We see some of the children break after a few minutes pass and essentially what we are witnessing is the depletion of willpower. By trying to suppress their thoughts and attentions from the marshmallow they work against themselves in a way because soon they succumb to the temptation. Also the decision whether to eat just the one or wait for the second marshmallow, works to deplete their willpower reserves thus resulting in some of the children failing the test. Also the irony that marshmallows contain glucose that which would fuel their willpower is not lost on me.