Wednesday, September 05, 2012

More On Willpower


I love the new book, “Willpower” by Roy Baumeister & John Tierney. (I mentioned this book here on September 1st. ) Now I’m almost at the end but I have to share some more of this new book.

“Willpower” is for a general audience—especially business folks and parents-- who want to learn more about how willpower works, and how to both get more and teach kids to have some. But this is also a terrific book for people in recovery.

Here are a couple more gems from Baumeister and Tierney:

They write about why it’s especially beneficial to have a daily practice of prayer and meditation (as in our Eleventh Step). “A daily practice of prayer and meditation is an anaerobic workout for self control.” Now, we know that a daily prayer practice keeps us connected to a higher power and therefore more able to surrender and let go of things, but the bonus, I’ve learned from “Willpower” is that people who do daily prayer and meditation develop more self-control in other areas of their lives. So isn’t that a win-win for someone resisting temptation of any kind?

Another topic the authors write about that intrigued me is “The Hyperbolic Discount”. This is a psychological phenomenon that all people have to some degree whereby we discount the long-term impact of a short-term decision. This is a human foible where “we can ignore temptations when they are not immediately available but once they are in front of us, we lose perspective and forget our distant goals.” Hence we don’t drink today AND we don’t drink tomorrow. This is also the 2012 psychological explanation for the story from the Big Book about the man who has that glass of milk and just one shot of whiskey. It also explains my completing forgetting my goal to buy fewer cheap clothes and save for better ones when I am standing in Target.

There is more in these sections about Mary Karr—author of “Lit” and her recovery path and poignant stories about Eric Clapton and what helped him to get and stay sober—even when he had to face the death of his young son. Powerful, relevant stuff.

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