Free Northerner writes:
The Bookshelf: Willpower
Right off the bat, I’ll say that the book was excellent and I’m glad it was recommended to me.
Essentially the book is a discussion of willpower, how it works, how to use it to your advantage, and how to strengthen it.
It’s written in a typical self-help masquerading as popular science style. Introduce an issue, show some studies, show some real life examples, and then show the practical applicability of the previous. The writing style is solid; its engaging, accessible, well-written. Not quite as engaging as, say, Malcolm Gladwell, the big player in the self-help as popular science genre, but it’s also much more in-depth and informative than Gladwell’s breezy style (gentle mockery here), so overall I think it functions better.
The book argues that willpower exists and, along with IQ, is the strongest universal predictor of success. Levels of self-control as a child are tied to future life outcomes. Willpower is biologically based and is dependent on your glucose levels. The biggest lesson of the book is that you have only a limited amount of willpower, which is steadily depleted as you resist temptation and make decisions, and is restored through eating and sleeping. Your available willpower is somewhat innate but can be strengthened. So, you should try to avoid depleting willpower unnecessarily and conserve willpower for when you really need it.
The various chapters explain how to use to-do lists to optimize your productivity, how making decisions and will power effect each other, how to apply willpower to your spending, strengthening willpower, how belief in higher power/values can strengthen willpower, raising children with willpower, and that perennial self-help favourite, dieting.
There’s too much in the book for me to go through all of it here, so I’ll highlight some manosphere-related things that stood out to me.
As mentioned, there’s a discussion on glucose and willpower, and the book recommend eating low glycemic foods such as meats, veggies, nuts, and fruits rather than sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. In other words, eating paleo/primal can help build up your willpower. Although, in times of decision/willpower fatigue a quick boost of energy from something sugary can be a good temporary willpower pick-me-up.
Also, on diet and health, the authors conclude that, contrary to popular opinion, self-control has only minimal effect on physical health. They recommend heavily against “dieting”, saying that dieting itself causes long-term weight gain and unhealthiness as it overrides your body’s natural hunger signals. There’s some advice on how to increase your odds of becoming healthier.
There’s a discussion of the SMP. Essentially, your brain is reluctant to forgo options, so as you’re given more choices you become more reluctant to choose. So, as your mating choices expand you are more likely to increase your criteria for a potential mate, increasing the likelihood of ending up with no mate at all. This explains why some women (and men) can have long, impossible criteria for potential partners.
One section discusses the “hot-cold empathy gap”, where in peace you can not appreciate how you’ll behave in the heat of the moment. So, when in the heat of temptation you are much more likely do something that you would not consider otherwise. This is applied to men; when aroused men were a lot more likely to be willing to engage in sexual activities they would not have considered in a “cool” state. Not surprising, but something to for aspiring patriarchs to keep in mind.
The self-esteem movement is excoriated as it causes narcissism while not actually providing the promised benefits.
There’s a discussion of how single-parenting is heavily detrimental to children as children in single-parent homes are monitored less and monitoring is essential to the development of self-control.
On the topic that led to EA’s recommendation to read this book, video games are encouraged in this book for children as they exercise willpower. There’s further useful advice on raising children to have willpower and self-control.
In other words, the science of willpower more or less validates the arguments of the manosphere/alt-right at very turn.
The book concludes with some helpful and practical advice, such as know your limits, pick your battles, monitor yourself, use a to-do list, and reward yourself. This advice is not stunningly original, but it’s good to have it provided along with the backing science.
This book is excellent. If you ever desire to improve yourself or accomplish something difficult, Willpower is a must-buy. It will explain to you how to better harness your willpower to succeed. I can not recommend this book enough.
If you don’t ever plan on accomplishing anything, you might enjoy the science but the book’s not for you. Also, you should really consider why you have resigned yourself to mediocrity and failure. Upon consideration you should choose to improve yourself, then read the book to help do so.