December 27, 2011

Willpower by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney.

Willpower by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney.
Rediscovering the greatest human strength.

[As per the authors, intelligence is set at the time of birth and the only thing that a human can control/change is his self-control to reach higher heights]

Charles Darwin wrote in 'The Descent of man' "The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts'.

The most commonly resisted desire in the beeper study was the urge to eat, followed by the urge to sleep and then by the urge for leisure, like taking a break from work by doing a puzzle or game instead of writing a memo. Sexual urges were next on the list of most-resisted desires, a little ahead of urges for other kinds of interactions, like checking emails and social networking sites, surfing the web, listening to music or watching TV.

The right smile makes people feel good about you, says Dale Carnegie. 'The basic factor in psychology is the realizable wish' Peale wrote: "The man who assumes success tends already to have success". Believe it achieve it.

We can divide the uses of willpower into four broad categories, starting with the control of thoughts. Another broad category is the control of emotions, which psychologist call affect regulations when it's focused specifically on mood. More commonly, we are trying to escape from bad moods and unpleasant thoughts. A third category is often called impulse control, which is what most people associate with willpower: the ability to resist temptations like alcohol, tobacco, etc. The fourth category that researchers call performance control: focusing your energy on the task in hand, finding the right combination of speed and accuracy, managing time, preserving when you feel like quitting.

Intake of glucose directly increases willpower. The old advice about eating a good breakfast applies all day long, particularly on days when you are physically or mentally stressed. To maintain steady self-control, you are better off eating foods with a low glycerin index: mostly vegetables, nuts, many raw fruits, cheese, fish, meats, olive oil, and other food fats.

Willpower 101:
1. Know your limits. Your supply of willpower is limited and you use the same resources for many different things.
2. Watch for symptoms. To avoid succumbing to irrational biases and lazy shortcuts articulate your reasons for your decisions and consider whether they make sense.
3. Pick your battles. When you pick you battle, look beyond the immediate challenges and put your life in perspective.
4. Make a to-do list or at least not-to-do-list
5, Beware the planning fallacy One way to avoid the planning fallacy is to force yourself to think about your past.
6. Don't forget the basics. For example, self-control will be most effective if you take good basic care of your body, starting with diet and sleep.
7. The power of positive procrastination. Benchley wrote:"The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment". Procrastination typically avoids one task by doing something else and rarely do they sit there doing nothing at all.
8. The nothing alternative (for example If I can't write, I will do nothing"
9. Keep track - monitoring is crucial for any kind of plan you make.
10. Reward often

Few Books mentioned in this book:
Dale Carnegie - How to win friends and influence people
Norman Vincent Peale's The power of positive thinking
Napoleon Hill's Think and grow rich
Baumeister and Dianne Tice 's Losing Control (scholarly book?)

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