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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 (3437 )
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  •  
    James Mooroopna, Australia 07-15-12
    James Mooroopna, Australia 07-15-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very enjoyable read!"

    I learnt a lot about myself and why we make the decisions that we do...even to our own detriment. Must read.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Yoshida 10-18-13
    A. Yoshida 10-18-13
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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.

    8 of 9 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.


    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill M. Stecher Fullerton, CA USA 10-24-12
    Jill M. Stecher Fullerton, CA USA 10-24-12 Member Since 2015

    jillmo16

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    "Great material- horrible narration."
    What did you love best about The Willpower Instinct?

    This information offered in the book is excellent. Very thought provoking and useful.


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

    The Power of Habit-The Power of habit gives lots of information on habits, this book gives you the skills to act on the information.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator was slow and annoying. I found myself regularly tuning out and having to go back. If given a do over I would much rather read the book than listen to it. Also, interestingly- the author of the book has a better voice. Not sure why SHE didn't narrate it herself.


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

    No- too much to take in all at once. Best to digest the information and try bit by bit to enact in your own life.


    16 of 22 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 7 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.

    3 of 4 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 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy 08-06-12
    Andy 08-06-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Follow your instinct, avoid this book."

    I teach behavior change so I read books like this. This one was painfully slow even using the faster feature on the iPod. It was also generally useless.
    The amazing info revealed is that it's good to relax, and sleep, and be healthy, and maybe meditate, etc. There are better books available to explore those obvious topics.
    It eventually got into some interesting psych studies with counterintuitive findings but these were not Earth-shattering or terribly practical, and they contradicted each other: willpower is like a muscle, so if you're trying to lose weight, you should put a bowl of candies on your desk at work to challenge yourself----but wait--- willpower is like a gas tank you don't want to deplete, so if you want to lose weight, you should keep candies hidden so they are harder to get at.
    Brilliant!
    I guess the author didn't have the willpower to read her own book.

    14 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ,Louis-Philippe NOTRE-DAME-DU-PORTAGE, QC, Canada 04-09-12
    ,Louis-Philippe NOTRE-DAME-DU-PORTAGE, QC, Canada 04-09-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A few good tricks"
    What did you like best about The Willpower Instinct? What did you like least?

    The distinction between pleasure itself and the


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    Easy to follow, with weekly assignments.


    What three words best describe Walter Dixon’s voice?

    Encouraging, paternal, sounds like a good patient teacher


    Did The Willpower Instinct inspire you to do anything?

    It helped me with my weight loss but I'm getting ready for the REAL challenge: stopping cigarettes!


    Any additional comments?

    I want to go back to it for a re-listen,

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MsclQuake 04-01-12
    MsclQuake 04-01-12

    I enjoy sci fi and fantasy, action thrillers, horror and romantic gay m/m fiction

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    "good view on willpower"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Willpower Instinct to be better than the print version?

    not sure because I have not read the book


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

    basic self help books that are thought provoking


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

    no


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was made to consider ideas or issues within my own behaviour that I had never considered and to look at my choices in a new light....sometimes choices you make are really a trigger for a person to behave in a certain manner at another time (breaking your discipline) kind of like a cascade of events....that was started by what you thought was an innocent decision (subconsciously....its not)


    9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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