Willpower gave a well structured look behind how you can develop your willpower and reduce the things that drain your willpower. I found it much more direct and practical than the power of habit and more focused than the willpower instinct. I liked the science around how important glucose is to willpower as well as insights into how dieters set themselves up for failure. Willpower provides numerous experiments showing the effects of willpower & ego depletion, Baumeister’s term for describing people’s diminished capacity to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Relatively quick read for the value, could have been more deeper in some areas.
I was eager to turn to this book after the disappointment from reading the power of habit. In Willpower, the authors will focus more on the science so I’m excited to dive into this one. Growing up in difficult circumstance, I’ve developed a high degree of control of my willpower, but many others in a similar circumstance did not. Why is that?
The best way to reduce stress in your life is to stop screwing up. - Roy F. Baumeister For most of us, though, the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them. - Roy F. Baumeister “Monkey Mind”, a mind plagued with constantly shifting thoughts, like a money leaping widely from tree to tree. - From Buddhist Teachings
WILLPOWER: REDISCOVERING THE GREATEST HUMAN STRENGTH
How willpower of the lack thereof, has affects the lives of many.
"The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts."
The term willpower, came from the Victorians who were concerned about the moral decay in society and preached the need for "willpower", as a form of internal strength that could protect them from temptations.
People sought to increase their store of willpower by following advice from Samuel Smiles, an 19th century English Author, who had one of the most popular book's titled, "Self-Help."
There was a decline in the popular belief in Willpower after world War I and onward until the 80s.
Social scientists would look for causes of misbehavior outside of the individual: poverty, relative deprivation, oppression, or other failures of the environment or the economic and political systems.
In regards to social sciences and similar areas
Progress generally comes not from theories but from someone finding a clever way to test a theory.
The Radish Experiment
*In an experiment of willpower, students were asked to fast and then were led into a room with freshly baked chocolate. Not everyone got to eat the cookies, they were divided into the cookie, chocolate, no food, and the radish group. The radish group could not eat the cookies, and many from the group flirted with temptation, but not took a bite.
The real test was to see how much energy was used in resisting the food from the other groups. Each group was asked to work on puzzles; which was unsolvable. Those allowed to eat cookies and those who didn't eat anything worked on puzzles for twenty-minutes, before giving up. Those from the radish eating group gave up in just eight minutes.
The group that resisted the delicious temptation of cookies and chocolate had used tired out their willpower, and were unable to put it to good use in other areas.
Ego Depletion: Baumeister's term for describing people's diminished capacity to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Effects of Ego Depletion
THINGS THAT DEPLETE WILLPOWER
Uses of Willpower
Your body utilizes Glucose to fuel willpower.
Willpower and Glucose Tips
Self control without goals and others standards is aimless change. For most of us the problem is not lack of goals but too many.
Self-Awareness evolved because it helps self-regulation.
Consequences of Conflicting Goals
How to Build Willpower
Buddhist image, "Monkey Mind", a mind plagued with constantly shifting thoughts, like a money leaping widely from tree to tree.
The Zeigarnik Effect
Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one's mind. The unconscious is asking the conscious mind to make a plan.
The Judge's Dilemma (and the Prisoner's Distress)
Judging is hard mental work, and when done all day, their brains and bodies use up it's glucose, a crucial component of willpower. With weakened decision making decision, judges tend to be tougher on criminal sentences later in the day than earlier in the day.
Hyperopia (the opposite of myopia), in which you focus too much on the future at the expense of the present.
Narrow, concrete, here-and-now focus works against self-control, whereas a broad, abstract, long-term focus supports it. That's one factor why religious people tend to score higher in self-control that non-religious people. Non-religious people can improve from more transcendent thoughts and enduring ideals.
Alcohol doesn't increase your impulse to do stupid or destructive things; instead, it simply removes restraints. It lessens self-control by lowering blood glucose and by reducing self-awareness. It mainly affects behaviors marked by inner conflict.
Religion affects two central mechanisms for self-control: building willpower and improving monitoring.
Habit development is a way to improve willpower and religious believers work on this consistently thought praying routines, fasting or other eating restrictions, etc.
Religious people tend to feel that someone important is watching them; i.e God, some guardian, members of their community, etc.
Total abstinence takes less willpower in the long run, so it may be better for self-control than moderation.
High self-esteem acts like an emotional bank account to get you through tough periods.
Self-esteem can also turn into narcissists, the over focus on the self, grand images about one's place in the world and need to be treated special.
Self-control is more reliable than self-esteem.
We can learn a lot about self-control from video games. They teach us about setting clear and attainable goals, how to get consistent feedback from the environment, as well as the emphasis on practicing leading to improvement.
The author has some recommendations for those aiming to control their weight:
People who weight themselves everyday are more more successful at keeping their weight from creeping back up.
It's about bringing consistent attention to the habit you are trying to change.
Researchers have shown that eating while watching television/streaming increases binge eating, especially when that show or movie is engaging.
Oprah Paradox: Even people with excellent self-control can have a hard time consistently controlling their weight.
The What-the-Hell Effect
Dieters have a fixed target in mind for their maximum daily calories, and when they exceed it for some unexpected reason, they think, What the hell, I might as well enjoy myself today. The resulting binge ends up having the person consume more than if they weren't on a diet in the first place.
To reduce the amount of time you spend controlling your thoughts use an implementation intention:
If x happens, I will do y.
The more you use this technique to transfer the control of your behavior to automatic processes, the less effort you will expend.
People with strong self-control spent less time resisting desires than other people do.
They have fewer temptations, inner conflicts and arrange their lives so that they minimize problems.
The best way to reduce stress in your life is to stop screwing up.
Also extreme procrastination is bad for your health as you put yourself in more high stress situations.
Willpower evolved because it was crucial for our ancestors to get along with the rest of the clan.Inner discipline leads to outer kindness.
Willpower had made us the most adaptable creatures on the plant, it makes each one of us strong.