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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It | [Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.]

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course The Science of Willpower, The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity. Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, The Willpower Instinct explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters.
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Publisher's Summary

Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course The Science of Willpower, The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity. Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, The Willpower Instinct explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters. For example, listeners will learn:

  • Willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
  • Willpower is not an unlimited resource. Too much self-control can actually be bad for your health.
  • Temptation and stress hijack the brain's systems of self-control, but the brain can be trained for greater willpower.
  • Guilt and shame over your setbacks lead to giving in again, but self-forgiveness and self-compassion boost self-control.
  • Giving up control is sometimes the only way to gain self-control.
  • Willpower failures are contagious - you can catch the desire to overspend or overeat from your friends­­ - but you can also catch self-control from the right role models.

In the groundbreaking tradition of Getting Things Done, The Willpower Instinct combines life-changing prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help listeners with goals ranging from losing weight to more patient parenting, less procrastination, better health, and greater productivity at work.

©2011 Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

"This book has tremendous value for anyone interested in learning how to achieve their goals more effectively. McGonigal clearly breaks down a large body of relevant scientific research and its applications, and shows that awareness of the limits of willpower is crucial to our ability to exercise true self control." (Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D., co-author of You Are Not Your Brain and author of best-selling Brain Lock)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (3113 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Campbell Bakersfield, CA 12-17-12
    C. Campbell Bakersfield, CA 12-17-12 Member Since 2015

    Can't complain.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the most interesting books I've ever read"

    When reading a good nonfiction book I'll have this "HA!" moments where the author says something so awesome it changes how I think, or teaches me something so interesting I literally laugh out loud. It's almost like I get a shot of enlightenment, and it feels so good I just laugh.

    I have not had one of these "HA" moments in years and this book gave me at least 5.

    Thank you.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kitsune CA 11-29-12
    Kitsune CA 11-29-12
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    3
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    "Clear & concise discussion of the biology of will"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Highly recommended, especially for those who are curious as to the underlying mechanisms of willpower. Especially useful to those who may want to examine nutritional goals or need more energy for work.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 11-25-12
    Dave 11-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Some good information...but slooow going"

    Dr. McGonigal provides an overview of the theory and practice of willpower, much of which is drawn from McGonigal's course at Stanford. I thought it was interesting, but I think the same content could have been delivered more efficiently if, perhaps, 1/3 of the text was edited out.

    I'm sure that many listeners would say that Walter Dixon's narration was pleasant and well delivered, but it was way too slow for me. I played much of it at 2x speed (a first for me) because it seem to be going in slow motion.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niel CEDAR HILLS, UT, United States 11-21-12
    Niel CEDAR HILLS, UT, United States 11-21-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "There is power in here to change lives"

    I found this to be a really remarkable book. I have listened to a lot of "pop psychology" books lately, with varying degrees of usefulness and interest. This one hit high on both accounts for me.

    I for one am in a constant struggle with willpower, and I imagine I'm not the only one. The principles in this book are founded on science and are actionable. For example, the author starts off with research done on the value of meditation in increasing will-power, he then gives some simple examples of how to implement meditation into daily life without shaving your head and buying a seating cushion.

    The book is also a bit counter-intuitive, which I loved. The inefficacy of criticism is discussed at length. Having compassion for and accepting another habits may just be the best way to help them over come them. This is fascinating material, and it is found throughout.

    There is a sense of humor in this book as well, and a touch of self deprecation which can be rare in scientists. I not only enjoyed this book, it has made me a better person.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen United States 11-12-12
    Carmen United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Great for Understanding How to Make Life Changes"
    What made the experience of listening to The Willpower Instinct the most enjoyable?

    The book provides historical and recent research study results that relate to why people do the things they do. But also provides suggestions for combating bad habits and provides you with information on how to build skills to build your own willpower.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There are no characters in this book. Informational book on how to build your own willpower.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    Overall it was all good.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes and no, I listen to books while I do cardio work outs at the gym. It's a book that kind of needs to be stopped and started so that you can put the suggested behavior and mental changes to practice before moving on with the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elsa Lakebay, WA, United States 11-05-12
    Elsa Lakebay, WA, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding book!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Willpower Instinct the most enjoyable?

    I expected this book to be interesting based on the write-up but I was really pleased to find that it was also highly entertaining. The writer is very funny. The narrator was really good and the topic was fascinating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 10-30-12
    Andrew 10-30-12
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    5
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    "The one book you should read this decade!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Willpower Instinct the most enjoyable?

    The science of willpower is explained clearly and concisely which makes it accessible to almost any reader. The case studies and tips included in each chapter make it easy to apply the findings to your own life.


    Any additional comments?

    I can recommend this book enough. I think most of my friends and family will be receiving this book as their Christmas presents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ziad Forest Hill, Australia 10-29-12
    Ziad Forest Hill, Australia 10-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    5
    2
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    "A must listen for everyone"
    What did you love best about The Willpower Instinct?

    I have listened to the whole book once and am in the process of listening to -and attempting to implement- one chapter each week. The content is fascinating and I do enjoy Walter Dixon's narration. The fact that he speaks slowly is a plus for me, although others have disliked that aspect of the audio book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Nicolai USA 10-19-12
    T. Nicolai USA 10-19-12

    Tommy Timebomb

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    "A Self-Help Book That Actually Works"
    What did you love best about The Willpower Instinct?

    Unlike most of the self-help/psychology audiobooks I've heard, this one is written in a simple way that's easy to understand, and even if you're not trying to apply the ideas to your life, some of them just apply themselves it seems. It's nice to understand why we are the way we are, and what measures can be taken so that we can stop doing the things that we don't want to, yet can't resist doing.


    What other book might you compare The Willpower Instinct to and why?

    I've yet to find any books to compare this one to, because this is the only one that has actually made an impact on my psychology.


    What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He allows me to avoid actual reading, which I don't have time for. He's got a comforting voice, too, and it makes change seem less overwhelming.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    chapter seven and on, mostly when you get into the dopamine and impulse control stuff.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm somewhat new to audible, but this is a book I'll go back to often,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherri Guildford, Australia 10-12-12
    Sherri Guildford, Australia 10-12-12 Member Since 2009

    Australian, living in beautiful central Victoria. Audio book addict otherwise fairly well balanced.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Suddenly it all seems possible."

    I almost wrote 'life changing' as my title but as not a lot of life has gone by since I've read it perhaps I should wait a while. The audio book grabbed me so much I bought the hard copy to have as a reference to keep dipping into. In a whip smart, easy reading sort of way new theories regarding willpower are explored and explained. And new ideas for finding some are brought forward. It seems there's an 'ahh haa' light bulb moment on every page - certainly in every chapter- and this book feels as if it's been written by a friend, not a stern and 'disappointed in you' parent or teacher. I wonder why it was narrated by a man when it was written by a woman but he does a good job. If you feel a bit stuck in old habits that aren't serving you or you want to find the motivation to do something you've always wanted to....this is a great book to get you going.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 161-170 of 224 results PREVIOUS116171823NEXT
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  • J. Whittaker
    4/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Decent book but not the best"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    This is a decent book. It gives some good practical advice, almost in the form of large 'tips', such as meditation is good for willpower, so is being well slept, and engaging in regular exercise. However, this is also the books downfall.

    The book focuses on providing areas/things that will help with a persons willpower. But, the focus on willpower is misguided. Simply having more willpower will not solve your problems or help you achieve your goals.

    To achieve your goals you need to make progress, to make progress you need change. So you need to focus on the change process (what to change, and how to make the change stick).

    Simply having more willpower is a band aid solution.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • M. A. SMITH
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "It kind of works"

    One of my greatest frustrations with myself is the fact that I am so knuckle draggingly unproductive. I've read many self help books to combat this. I always get a short term boast that fades quickly. The same is true of the will power instinct but I have found, in the year since I first read it, that there have been some longs term benefits. Nothing miraculous but procrastination is reduced. Repeat listens required but I would recommend this to fellow carriers of the laziness gene.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Felix
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Attention required"

    Great content but not the easiest of listens, good consolidation of research and nothing wrong with the narration, but requires focus, some audio books hold my attention, and I do not find said attention wondering. Not so here. But none the less it is worth the effort. The next step is the application of the material assuming that is your intention....... and good luck with establishing the will power to implement the suggestions required to increase your will power..

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Hatfield, United Kingdom
    9/7/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Deadly Dull"
    Has The Willpower Instinct put you off other books in this genre?

    Yes, this is the last self help book I'm listening to written by an American scientist. They are painful to listen to.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Geeky and nasally voice.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Willpower Instinct?

    No idea. I ejected it from my CD player after 1-2 chapters when the author started going on inhaling and exhaling to build motivation.


    Any additional comments?

    Avoid this like the plague. Deadly dull nerdy twaddle read by a guy who sounds like Mr Burns in the Simpsons.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Blackburn, United Kingdom
    5/31/12
    Overall
    "Amazing"

    Fantastically helpful book-easy to listen to and has homework activities that you can apply between chapters to see if her evidence based suggestions work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mervyn
    3/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Will Power Is Powerful!"

    Kelly McGonigal has broken down this subject into manageable pieces of information. The book is brilliantly presented and the ideas are strung together in an extremely logical and clear way. The idea that Will is not just Will, but Won't and Want is Awesome! Thank you, but Professor McGonigal! A fantastic "read" Mervyn Barrett

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Truth Seeker
    5/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So much more than the title"
    If you could sum up The Willpower Instinct in three words, what would they be?

    Illuminating and Informative


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a very thorough book and touches on many relevant subjects, all to do with our brains and how they work.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    Walter Dixon's performance was just right - soft and understated, allowing the words to speak for themselves


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Victims of our own mentality . . . .


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Enjoyable Read!"

    I really enjoyed the Willpower Instinct. It is definitely one of those books or audiobooks in this case that you want to listen to again and again. Her writing style is easy and enjoyable to follow and keeps you wanting more and the research she has performed is really incredible. A must read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Master
    London, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Marvelously effective!"

    This is a great read. After reading just the title and synopsis on the cover it gave me the belief and will that I need not listen to the book at all.



    Marvelously effective!

    0 of 7 people found this review helpful
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