Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength

 

This is a fantastic factual book about our ability to understand where our willpower comes from, why it can become depleted, and how we can help ourselves to maintain it. Non-fiction books normally overwhelm me slightly and I tend to dip in and out of them over many months. This book however is very easy to digest yet is full of evidence-based information, explanations of studies that have been carried out and it is simple to follow. 

The authors, Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, are a psychologist and journalist respectively. They have put this book together to help educate us via science and factual evidence about how we can make the best of ourselves by maximising our willpower. 

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Normally I only use my kindle when on holiday, but this book was in a kindle sale and so I read it on there. I find it a lot more difficult to review a book from my kindle as you can't flick back and refer to things as easily. Luckily however I have mastered the 'highlighting' function and so can refer back to many points in this book that fascinated me. 

 

Throughout the book we are told that willpower easily becomes depleted when our blood sugar levels are low. An example of this is when we are hungry and it is far more difficult to concentrate and make a decision, so if we then go supermarket we come back with loads of unnecessary things. Equally, if we are on a long shift we find it much more difficult to make decisions about our patients' care prior to going for our break. It explains that this is also shown in a study of children, as 'those that skipped breakfast would suddenly start to behave and learn better after the midmorning snack'. 

What I also found very interesting and could relate to my own life was that one study they discuss showed 'exercising self-control in one area seemed to improve all areas of life'. This rings so true with me. When I pull my socks up and am able to sort my life out I exercise, eat well, sleep well, ensure all my appointments are in the diary, get my prescription on time and am very organised. If one thing slips then the others seem to fall alongside and before I know it i'm back to doing nothing and being totally disorganised.

 

I spoke to my mum about this (she is a librarian so we talk about books a lot) and she said that there is a saying: "If you want a job doing, ask a busy woman". This is so true as when I have a productive day I get endless things done around the house, yet if I have no direction and am sluggish, washing up last night's plates can seem a mammoth task. David Blaine is mentioned a lot too as they interviewed him and he admitted that between training for his endurance tasks that result in him being militant in every aspect of his life, he eats rubbish and does no exercise, which results in huge weight gain and bad self-care. 

 

Much is discussed in this book about the best way to exercise, lose weight and how not to diet, and gives a lot of useful hints and tips without overwhelming you or throwing statistics that will result in you switching off. It reads like a novel in areas and the chapters are of reasonable length. A small area of interest is religion and how people that have faith in a higher power are shown to have greater self-control and willpower. I found this very interesting and it is a huge topic of opinionated discussion, one which I shall not go into, but the explanation is given from two sides and really gets you thinking. 

 

So, if you need a bit of inspiration or a kick up the back side to get back on track with your nutrition or exercise, or want to think a little more about how your willpower can vary and ways to maximise self-control, I really recommend this book. I was surprised at how interesting and readable it was. I would have preferred a physical copy instead of kindle, but it didn't matter too much in the end. 

 

I have learnt a lot from this book and shall certainly recommend it to my colleagues, in particular. A solid 4 stars for this one. 

 

Harriet, x