ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
HUMANIST GALAXY
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June 13, 2021

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WILLPOWER:
The Rediscovery of
Humans' Greatest Strength.

Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.
The Penguin Press, 2011 (291 pages)

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    Quote = "Improving willpower is the surest way to a better life." (From the Introduction, by the authors, Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, page 2)

    Quote = "Baumeister and Tierney reveal the secrets of the most coveted human virtue --- self-control --- and how to master it. Baumeister's research showed that people typically spend four hours each day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank lack of self-control as their biggest weakness... Since willpower operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse." (Paraphrased by webmaster from the publisher's summary and book description.)

    Quote = "Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain's store of fuel. That is why eating and sleeping (especially failing to do either of those) have such dramatic effects on self-control --- and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation... The lessons from their stories and psychologists' experiments can help anyone. You learn not only how to build willpower but also how to conserve willpower for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best new techniques for monitoring your progress." (Paraphrased by webmaster from the publisher's book description.)

    Quote = "Once you master these techniques and establish the right habits, willpower gets easier: you will need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That is neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life... The book combines the best of modern social science with practical wisdom. Baumeister and Tierney share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower. As our society has moved away from the virtues of thrift and self-denial, we people often feel helpless because we face more temptations than ever... However we define happiness (such as a close-knit family, a satisfying career, or financial security) we will not reach it without mastering self-control." (Paraphrased by webmaster from the publisher's book description.)

    Quote = "The authors argue that willpower and self-control are primary issues behind much of human endeavor and conflict, and they offer simple, straightforward methods for exerting this finite resource more successfully. They use historical examples to build a solid, convincing foundation for the points they raise." (From Choice editorial book review)

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    note = Numbers in parentheses refer to pages

    INTRODUCTION (1-17)

      note = "Improving willpower is the surest way to a better life." (page 2)

    1) Is willpower more than a metaphor? (19-39)

    2) Where does the power in willpower come from? (41-60)

    3) A brief history of the to-do list, from god to Drew Carey (61-87)

    4) Decision fatigue (88-107)

    5) Where have all the dollars gone? The quantified self knows (108-123)

    6) Can willpower be strengthened? Preferably without feeling David Blaine's pain (124-141)

    7) Outsmarting yourself in the heart of darkness (142-166)

    8) Did a higher power help Eric Clapton and Mary Karr stop drinking? (167-186)

    9) Raising strong children self-esteem vs. self-control (187-213)

    10) The perfect storm of dieting (214-237)

    CONCLUSION The future of willpower: "More gain, less strain as long as you do not procrastinate" (238-260)

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (261-262)

    NOTES (263-278)

    INDEX (279-291)

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    AUTHOR NOTES, SUMMARY,
    AND BOOK DESCRIPTION

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    AUTHOR NOTES = Roy F. Baumeister is the Eppes Eminent Professor of Psychology and head of the social psychology graduate program at Florida State University. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton in 1978 and did a postdoctoral fellowship in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked at Case Western Reserve University, as well as the University of Texas, University of Virginia, Max-Planck-Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

    Baumeister has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the Templeton Foundation. His research spans the areas of self and identity, self-regulation, interpersonal rejection and the need to belong, sexuality and gender, aggression, self-esteem, meaning, and self-presentation. He is the author of nearly 400 publications. His books include Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, The Cultural Animal, Meanings of Life and Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. -- Bowker Author Biography.

    SUMMARY = One of the world's most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, collaborates with renowned New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of the most coveted human virtue --- self-control --- and how to master it. Baumeister's research shows that we typically spend four hours every day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank the lack of self-control as their biggest weakness. The book looks to the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists-including David Blaine, Eric Clapton, and others-who have flourished by improving their self-control.

    BOOK DESCRIPTION = In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse. Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain's store of fuel. That is why eating and sleeping --- and especially failing to do either of those --- have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).

    The lessons from their stories and psychologists' experiments can help anyone. You learn not only how to build willpower but also how to conserve it for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best new techniques for monitoring your progress. Once you master these techniques and establish the right habits, willpower gets easier: you will need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That is neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life.

    The book combines the best of modern social science with practical wisdom. Baumeister and Tierney share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower. As our society has moved away from the virtues of thrift and self-denial, it often feels helpless because we face more temptations than ever.

    However we define happiness (such as a close-knit family, a satisfying career, or financial security) we will not reach it without mastering self-control.

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    EDTORIAL BOOK REVIEWS
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    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW = Willpower, or self-control, is one of the keys to success, says Baumeister (director of Florida State University's social psychology program) and New York Times science writer Tierney. They review the latest research to report key findings on willpower: for instance, each of us has a finite supply of it and deplete it whenever we draw on it, whether at work or at home, but it can be developed and strengthened. Further, decision making (in particular) saps that supply. But it is possible to do willpower exercises to gain self-control over all sorts of bad behavior, from overeating to physical violence; willpower exercises have been shown to work with domestic abusers, for example.

    At several points throughout the book, and in a concluding chapter, the authors offer practical advice for increasing willpower, not much of which is new (for instance, setting realistic goals in dieting), but all of which deserves repeating. Baumeister and Tierney have produced a very fine work-clear and succinct, based on solid research, and with good anecdotal material about magician / performance artist David Blaine, singer Eric Clapton, and writers Anthony Trollope and Raymond Chandler, among others. This should prove helpful for those who are trying to make and keep resolutions.

    BOOK LIST REVIEW = The Victorians came up with the term willpower to describe resisting temptation. Most psychologists never bought it, especially the related notion that willpower was a manifestation of energy within the body. Thanks largely to research conducted by Baumeister, however, it looks like the Victorians were right. In one of many startling revelations, Baumeister and science-writer Tierney show how willpower, aka self-control, is linked to glucose, which explains, for example, why PMS is commonly associated with an inability to control food cravings (glucose is diverted to the reproductive system, leaving less for the rest of the body).

    Willpower, the authors persuasively argue, is not merely a quaint notion; it is real. Each of us has a finite amount of it, and the sooner one understands how it works, the sooner one will learn how to avoid depleting one's personal supply. If the book were not so lucid, it would be tempting to dismiss it as hokum. But it is hard to ignore or ridicule the ideas here. In fact, they seem not just plausible but blindingly obvious. -- Pitt, David

    CHOICE REVIEW = Baumeister (psychology, Florida State Univ.) and Tierney (a science writer) address a fundamental issue of relevance to all. Bringing to the discussion a combination of common sense, historical analysis, and contemporary examples, the authors paint a vivid picture of successful and unsuccessful efforts to "wield" willpower and of why understanding willpower is so important. Readers may be surprised by the role willpower has played throughout history and across cultures.

    For example, parents may think their struggles (vis-a-vis their children) with self-control and willpower issues are new and unique in comparison to the struggles of their parents or grandparents. In fact, the authors point out, these challenges are neither new nor unique --- though the issues may seem to have changed with the passage of time and progress of technology.

    The authors argue that willpower and self-control are primary issues behind much of human endeavor and conflict, and they offer simple, straightforward methods for exerting this finite resource more successfully. They use historical examples to build a solid, convincing foundation for the points they raise. However, the book is not "scholarly" in the sense of citing research to support every point. In the end, this is a fun, informative book for casual readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Professionals; general readers. -- R. E. Osborne Texas State University, San Marcos

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    RECOMMENDATION: You can re-read this summary according to a reinforcement schedule, such as a few hours later and a few days later and then several times in the next week or two. This strategy can help you take advantage of the power of the spaced-repetition method of memorization. Such deep introspection can strengthen your willpower and change your adaptable self-identity to increase your self-esteem.

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    REMEMBER ALWAYS:
    You Are Your Adaptable Memory!
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