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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

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  •  
    A. Yoshida 10-18-13
    A. Yoshida 10-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Read one chapter a week"

    The book lacked a tight integration of all the concepts into a step-by-step program. It approach varied -- sometimes it was about "try mediation... do this...." Then it switched to information, like how your brain works and how your willpower can be depleted. Then there's a little of both, like good behaviors are used to justify bad behavior ("I exercised today so I'm going to reward myself with some chocolates"). I think you need to read only one chapter a week to absorb the information and practice it for a few days before moving on to the next chapter.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie 10-01-12
    Leslie 10-01-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Not My Cup of Tea"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The narration was not my cup of tea. I should have listened to the sample first. The book does not properly flow for an audio book. However I do believe with the proper narration and speaking rhythm the one would better appreciate/grasp the contents.


    What was most disappointing about Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.’s story?

    I very much appreciate research and scientific findings, however excessive amount of scientific stories/findings overtake the main topics. I wish the book was designed to first introduce the topic of the chapter, outline why the topic is relevant to willpower, and lastly add scientific findings and how people overcame/used this information. This book does the opposite and does not draw the listener into the message.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    I feel this voice was not appropriate for this book. The voice was an immediate turnoff for me.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clare United States 02-06-13
    Clare United States 02-06-13
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    "Great book, lame narration"
    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Walter Dixon?

    Kelly McGonigal! It's a huge opportunity lost to have this fantastic book narrated by Dixon's monotonous drone. This book was written by a brilliant woman, and it would add a lot to have her reading it.


    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam United States 04-14-13
    Pam United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2007

    Science writer in America's heartland

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    "Crash course worth taking"

    This book is based on a course that Dr. McGonigal teaches at Stanford, and it packs eight weeks of information into eight hours—and does it well. I didn't feel overwhelmed. I listened to one chapter a week, and gave thought to each topic in the days between, as her students would. Unlike some self-help books that seem to berate a person into making changes in their lives, this one is kind and empathetic. It's also very well researched, so I'm confident that I learned skills based on real scientific evidence.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christian Leiva San Francisco, CA USA 04-02-13
    Christian Leiva San Francisco, CA USA 04-02-13 Member Since 2013

    Comically Animated

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    "Great motivator!"
    If you could sum up The Willpower Instinct in three words, what would they be?

    Motivational, practical, doable.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was very down to earth. The advice is practical yet motivational and there is science behind the author's findings.


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

    He sounded relatable; like an everyman.


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

    It just really reinforced things I was already doing along with gave me ideas of new things to try.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan 01-12-13
    Ethan 01-12-13
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    "Ok book, bad narration"

    Several practical ideas. Anecdotes were average. I'd like it better with a different narrator. Walter Dixon sounds boring, stuffy and unenthused. You may want to hold off until using your credit until you have a specific willpower challenge in mind.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul United States 12-20-12
    Paul United States 12-20-12 Member Since 2012
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    "HOW WILLPOWER WORKS! not just self-help fluff"
    Where does The Willpower Instinct rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top for this genre. Too many books encourage, motivate, etc, and this book explains how will power works. This gives you the tools to actually direct your willpower. So many of the things I've heard in the past will actually backfire in reality, and this book dispelled so many false beliefs I had about willpower.
    I will be listening to this several times because there is so much to absorb and apply.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Willpower Instinct?

    A stand out point in this book was how the anticipation of a reward is more powerful than the reward itself, even when the reward never materializes. So we are constantly clicking our phone, or youtube, or facebook thinking it will make us laugh, make us happy, give us some important bit of information, but it seldom does, yet we keep clicking away like a rat in a cage. This book gave me the tools to recognize in myself that itch to respond to a anticipated reward that most likely won't materialize. This book is rooted in our mental construction for survival and much of willpower decisions are affected my survival instincts that are no longer valid in today's society, even though they were very appropriate in our early years as humans.
    This book is full of studies and examples of how willpower is affected by hunger, exhaustion, criticism, self-forgiveness, etc, etc. It is really eye-opening.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    It was easy to listen to with good diction and appropriate inflection, so if you listen at faster speeds (as I may the second time around), it is easy to understand. The speaker doesn't draw attention to himself, and I easily focused on the material with not much thought about the speaker, which is a good thing for a book of this sort.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "How to Hack your Willpower"


    Any additional comments?

    I like to listen to books, about 2 per month, and lots in the "improve your brain", "Time Management", type of books, and this one is an example of what they should be like in my opinion. I want to know how the brain works so I have a solid, valid foundation on which to build upon.
    THIS IS A GREAT, VERY INFORMATIVE BOOK!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue HOUSTON, TX, United States 11-07-12
    Sue HOUSTON, TX, United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Making change easy!"
    What did you love best about The Willpower Instinct?

    I like how he has divided the chapters so you can read one a week and implement the activities he has suggested during that week. Very doable tasks. Easy to follow.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way it is organized.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    His rate of speech.


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

    Yes - until I began the book and decided to follow the author's advice.


    Any additional comments?

    I think everyone should read this. Good facts and relevant to everyone.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 10-13-12
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 10-13-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just what I was searching for today"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Willpower Instinct to be better than the print version?

    I was looking all over for a long time to a sequel to SPARK...and this book was listed as similar WOW. MUCH better than I expected This is another MUST bookMore of these PLEASE


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Singlae narrator but "Me" in thje end


    Have you listened to any of Walter Dixon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes and I love his reading and the books he reads The Book i was searching for was another of his...


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

    Realizing how simple willpower for health and wellness and optimum living is it is not DENIAL.


    Any additional comments?

    I would really truly like to see more books like this and SPARK I will refer to this one over and over ...estimate listening to this another 10 times.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 07-31-12
    Lynn 07-31-12
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    "When "Just Do It" Doesn't Do It"

    Just about the time you think that there is nothing in self-help books, a number appear applying current neuroscience research to personal development. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, is a thought provoking and helpful addition to this emerging genre. In The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, she defines willpower and reveals what we are coming to understand about how it works. More importantly, she tells readers how current research can be used to advantage. For example, will power is limited and works best under certain conditions. Feeling bad causes use to give in to circumstances. Inner acceptance improves outer control. Each chapter is complete in itself which is helpful. This is a very informative helpful little book worth the time and effort to complete it. Have a pencil at hand to take notes as you turn the pages. The reading of Walter Dixon is a plus.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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