• by Roy Baumeister, John Tierney
  • Narrated by Denis O'Hare
  • 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For years, our concept of the self and well-being has been dominated by the notion of self-esteem, while the old fashioned value of willpower has been disparaged by psychologists who argued that we’re largely driven by unconscious forces beyond our control. In Willpower Baumeister and Tierney turn this misinformation on its head to reveal self-control as arguably the single most powerful indicator of success.
Baumeister discovered that willpower actually has a physical basis to it: it is like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice, and fatigued from overuse. That’s why eating and sleeping - and especially failing to do either of those - have such dramatic effects on self-control.
Yet, while self-control is biologically rooted, we have the capacity to manipulate our nature. Willpower features personal stories from entrepreneurs, executives, parents and children who have managed to do just that. The characters range from Victorian explorers to modern homemakers, from college students pulling all nighters to entertainers. The practical lessons in self-control conditioning they provide are nothing short of life changing.
Combining the best of modern social science with the practical wisdom of David Allen, Ben Franklin, and others, Baumeister and Tierney here share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Holy Grail

Okay, there is no Holy Grail!

I know that I find value in an audiobook when I have listened to it several times. This is one of a couple that fall in that category.

I've had a recent explosion in my life. I'm happier, more positive, I'm doing better, I'm getting things done, I'm more confident, and as I alluded to in a previous review, I kid you not, I've had more smiles thrown my way than in my lifetime! Yes, I've shed a few pounds, but I think there is a little positive aura following me instead of that dark cloud.

In fairness, It's not just one book. In fact, the initial spark was me needing change. I was at one of those points in life where I needed to be more productive, happier, etc. Point is, I needed to go somewhere - I just didn't know where or how, and a few books are helping me pave a path.

I got sick of listening to "rah, rah" books, instead searching for books that provide scientific proof of why I act in certain manners, many times contrary to my goals. This is one of several books that are relevant in my recent successes: Positive Intelligence, Positivity, Getting Things Done and The Power of Habit are others. These books have provided me with serious fuel, instead of just a momentary spike in motivation.

The nice thing about enjoying a book is that the author often turns you on to one or two books - Willpower made reference to Getting Things Done - that book as been good for me as well. It works for me, and that's important.

Willpower led me to change a few bad habits. It has taught me, as has The Power of Habit, that I can replace bad habits - and do so with baby steps - something that had a negative connotation in my life before for whatever reason. By performing what seem like insignificant good little habits, we start tweaking our brains and then, intelligently, ask ourselves after spotting a not-so-good habit, "Gee, why do I do this?" I've just never made this kind of progress and I feel great about it. I dislike reviewing books after just reading it because it will be more positive than the results. I'm cautious, but I've turned a corner boys and girls, and these books are helping. I plan on making some serious dents to my saboteurs. Trust me, I've had an army of them, and they've been disguised very well.

As a side note, I have found that listening to the audiobooks repeatedly helps not only my comprehension, but it's kind of like a mental workout - I'll show up where I need to with a stronger, active, positive, curious brain instead of the ol' reptile brain.


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- Erick

Some useful ideas but disappointing examples

I had high hopes for this book, since lack of willpower is one of the banes of my existence. And there ARE many interesting descriptions of this trait and some useful information about how to build up your self-control muscle.

But there are also some disappointingly bland recommendations. Need a to-do list? Try Dave Allen's GTD. Have problems with alcohol? Go to an AA meeting. Kids giving you trouble? Tell them to sit up straight. Not feeling much purpose in life? Go to church. Have trouble sticking to a diet? As I read the book, the message is: you're out of luck. Self-control is maintained by glucose, so to cut down on eating, you have to eat.

More troubling to me is the chapter that trumpets Henry Stanley, explorer of Africa and finder of Dr Livingstone, as a hero of self-control. Maybe he was, but even on the evidence given in the book itself, there wasn't much else to admire about him. He was a liar and a deserter, and his expeditions to Africa were responsible for countless atrocities. (The book tries to make a case that Stanley himself wasn't personally involved, but it's pretty lame.) He was also partly responsible for Leopold of Belgium's horrific rule over the Congo. Surely there were better examples than this, especially for a book representing the latest scientific research into ways of overcoming human suffering!
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- Tad Davis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-06-2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio