"The list is the origin of culture," Umberto Eco famously proclaimed. (Leonardo da Vinci, John Lennon, and Woody Guthrie would have all agreed.) But the list, it turns out, might also be the origin of both our highest happiness and our dreariest dissatisfaction. So argue New York Times science writer John Tierney and psychologist Roy F. Baumeister in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. While the book is fascinating in general -- an unconventional self-help tome that, much like Timothy Wilson's Redirect, grounds its insights and advice in 30 years of serious academic research into willfulness and self-control -- its third chapter, titled "A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey," is particularly interesting.
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