In Willpower, pioneering research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control. Drawing on cutting-edge research and the wisdom of real-life experts, Willpower shares lessons for how to focus our strength and redirect our lives. In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower in fact has a physical basis and 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's 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). Yet while there are natural limits to our self-control, these boundaries can be manipulated. We can build our willpower endurance, and Willpower draws lessons from the lab as well as the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists -including David Blaine, Amanda Palmer, Drew Carey, Eric Clapton, Mary Karr, and Oprah Winfrey. Willpower explains how to set realistic goals (there really is a science to the to-list list), how to monitor your progress (so that you can reward yourself often), and how to keep faith even when you falter. Once you establish the right habits, and find the techniques that work for you, willpower gets easier: you'll need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That's neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life. In today's digital world, where temptation is never more than a click away, it can feel as if self-control is under constant siege. But, as Willpower shows, we also have more knowledge and better tools for taking control of our lives. We can outsource the task to new technologies and social networks that will monitor our money, our weight, and just about anything else that concerns us. By blending practical wisdom with the best of research science, Willpower makes clear that whatever we seek-a close-knit family, a satisfying career, financial security, good health, the freedom to pursue our passions - we won't reach our goals without first learning to harness self-control.
ROY F. BAUMEISTER directs the social psychology program at Florida State University. He has written more than 450 scientific publications and consistently ranks among the world’s most frequently cited psychologists.
JOHN TIERNEY writes the “Findings” science column for the New York Times. His writing has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics. This is his third book.