Oh the allure of a siren’s promise to fix me just by reading a book… My shelves hold titles that seem to promise a healthier, happier, more organized, and better paid life – if only I read them and applied their message.
Not only do I already own many unread self-help books, I also regularly check them out from the library, usually in large groups on a single subject. Most recently I decided I only need more willpower to make everything right. A little searching (started at Amazon but quickly had so many books in my cart that I knew it was time to go to the library website and put some on hold to try before buying).
I started with Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy, at only 128 small pages, it’s a great length for a self-help book. The idea of concrete steps to improvement is promising – and the title is great. But by Rule 3 (Apply the 80/20 rule to everything), I was reading stuff I already know and remembered, I don’t need to know WHAT to do, I need to know HOW to make myself do it, which took me to:
Why Don’t I Do the Things I Know are Good For Me?: Taking Small Steps Toward Improving the Big Picture by BJ Gallagher. The first chapter instructs me to begin by noticing when I most struggle with I Should vs. I Want To. I’ve set the book aside to take the time to do that noticing. Which doesn’t make sense because I’ve been noticing this for years! It’s when I should be working but want to play Words of Wonder (forget Words With Friends, waiting on people to take their turn doesn’t work for me, and simply refuse to get entrapped by Candy Crush so I can continue to scoff at those who do) or when I should be going to bed but want to watch a little more mindless television. Knowing this, I suppose it is time to move to the second chapter? Quit procrastinating and eat the frog already?
Also waiting for my attention before they have to be returned to the library:
White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts: Suppression, Obsession, and the Psychology of Mental Control by Daniel M. Wegner.
We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst. Described as A witty and wide-ranging investigation of the central problem of our time: how to save ourselves from what we want and starting with a quote from Camus. What’s not to love? But why was it re-released 11 months after its original publication date retitled Temptation: Self Control in an Age of Excess? And why does one have a picture of a donut-bomb and the other a cat eyeing a bird in a cage? Aren’t those two totally different messages?
Maybe I should stick with my original search:
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. instructor of the acclaimed Stanford University Course The Science of Willpower.
Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength: Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. Apparently Mr. Baumeister if a pioneering research psychologist and Mr. Tierney is a New York Times science writer and together the have collaborated to “revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self control.”
Search the word Willpower on Amazon and you’ll find many more equally fantastic titles. Maybe after I give up on these I’ll try Willpower: The Owner’s Manual – 12 Tools for Doing the Right Thing by Frank Martela, Ph.D., especially since I just bought it for my Kindle (it’s was $2.99, has 10 reviews that average 4.8 stars, and is only 111 pages – what more could I ask?).
Maybe I should I add to my earlier list that when I Should be reading the books I already have, I Want To shop (to purchase or check out) new titles.