The Greatest Human Strength

This morning I awoke at 5am. After 8 hours of sleep (yes, very early bedtime yesterday) I was reasonably well rested, but for me there is no such thing as too much sleep. The bed was warm, soft and cozy, it was still dark outside and the air was crisp. But I also knew that not only was there no post for today, but I also didn’t have the faintest idea about what to write.

Of course, now that you’re reading this, you know what I did. After making myself a cup of tea, I started typing while watching the sun rise. This was my first act of willpower for the day. And that is what today’s post is all about.

All of us need willpower. Think of what happens during a typical day: traffic can be frustrating, the snide comment is swallowed when the store clerk is slow, you resist the cookies left on the table and bite your tongue when your partner does something stupid. All of these situations require willpower.

Researcher Roy F. Baumeister and NY Times writer John Tierney have written a fascinating book called “Willpower“. We all know that willpower diminishes during the day and yes, there is scientific proof. We are more likely to lose temper in the evening, when self-control has been used extensively over the course of the day. That’s also the time when we’re most likely to eat junk food. An exception is when women have PMS. That makes us wake-up without any willpower at all and is responsible for really bad decisions, including ridiculous haircuts, binging on junk food and losing temper without any reason whatsoever in inappropriate situations. All of that is covered in the book.

“Willpower” is not only a great read about willpower, but also gives plenty of practical advise. Chapters include:

Where does the Power of Willpower Come From?
A Brief History of The To-Do List
Raising Strong Children: Self-Esteem Vs Self-Control and
The Perfect Storm of Dieting

One last and interesting fact: People with strong self-control spend less time resisting desires. Why? Because people with good self-control (willpower) use it less for rescue in emergency situations, but rather to develop effective strategies to prevent these emergency situations from happening. And that makes sense: The closer a looming deadline, the more willpower is necessary.

I wish all of you a productive week!

Willpower: Rediscovery of the Greatest Human Strength
Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
ISBN-10: 1594203075
ISBN-13: 978-1594203077

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2 Responses to “The Greatest Human Strength”

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  1. Katie says:

    Oh goodness, now I’m a little sheepish about sleeping instead of writing this morning! That book sounds like a really worthwhile read. I’ve always though I had less willpower early in the day, as I’m horrible about waking up on time, but perhaps more sets in after I get myself up? Interesting things to think about!

  2. April says:

    Thank you for the post. I will have to see if my library has this book.

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