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The Willpower Instinct Audiobook

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

4.3 (4193 )
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  •  
    Pam United States 04-14-13
    Pam United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2016

    Science writer in America's heartland

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 8 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 3 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 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue HOUSTON, TX, United States 11-07-12
    Sue HOUSTON, TX, United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2015
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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 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 10-13-12
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 10-13-12 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

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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 3 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 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Library Volunteer Oklahoma City, OK United States 02-21-13
    Library Volunteer Oklahoma City, OK United States 02-21-13 Member Since 2008

    A Book and a Cat: Nothing more

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    "Outstanding"

    After listening to the book, I was so impressed that I purchased the hard cover so that I could refer back to it repeatedly, and I have. I have used many of the exercises for enhancing willpower, and I can imagine that sitting through Dr. McGonigal's actual course at Stanford would be even more engaging. Well-researched and thoroughly documented.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Campbell Houston, TX USA 02-05-13
    Debbie Campbell Houston, TX USA 02-05-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Impossible To Resist"
    Where does The Willpower Instinct rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Highly. The material is universally relevant, and Professor McGonigal's hits and misses with live audiences over various semesters have resulted in storytelling that unfolds in an engaging manner.


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

    There were so many that it's hard to pick just one. For me, it was her advice to build my willpower muscle by choosing one small task to do each day, even if it's not relevant to my willpower goal.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Walter Dixon?

    Not intentionally. I was disappointed that the author did not narrate the book herself. I had heard her on a podcast interview with Dr. Kiki, and that was partly what got me interested in her book. I was looking forward to hearing her work expressed in her own voice. To me, Walter Dixon sounded a little like the voice on a GPS. It was also disappointing that some listeners thought that the author was a man because the narrator was a man.


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

    Definitely. In fact, I'm making a second pass through the book now, listening to one chapter per week as the author suggested, because I lacked the willpower the first time through to stop listening at the end of each chapter.


    Any additional comments?

    Who doesn't struggle the issue of willpower? What a great treatment of a universal topic!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Svetlana East Brunswick, NJ, United States 03-19-12
    Svetlana East Brunswick, NJ, United States 03-19-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Strongly recommend"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would like to recommend the book to all who want to explore psychological aspects of human behavior.


    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Broderick Coats 04-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great insights!"

    A very straightforward approach to dealing with our unwanted behaviors. Helpful for anyone looking to make positive change.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • 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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • J. Whittaker
    4/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "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.


    3 of 3 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..

    3 of 3 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.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Ms K L Heath
    11/17/15
    Overall
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    "Wish this was narrated by the Author!"
    Where does The Willpower Instinct rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Kelly McGonigal is a great speaker! (Hear her Ted Talk) It's a shame this is not narrated by her. A fantastically talented woman and great writer. I hope she narrates future books. Looking fwd to reading more of her work..


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Artiom U.
    4/16/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very insightful and full of practical tips"

    The book explains in a very scientific way where our will power challenged come from and why we succumb to our impulses and cravings.
    It also has a number of very practical strategies to strengthen the will power.
    These strategies are sometimes counter intuitive and may not always fit with the conventional wisdom, but the are very effective.
    I strongly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • SaiKiran
    1/21/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "life changing when these principles are applied! ."

    it's so good and intense that I bought both audio and kindle version to make it a serious study.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • B3rn41987
    uk
    12/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Must read"

    I have bought this audio book some time ago but began listening only two weeks ago. Since then I listened it 5 times! Some of the subject is not knew. Many of us either read or heard it, but the best part of this book is the mini assignments where you can test yourself! Also the book not only teaches but gives you the scientific research behind the taught subject. Finally the narrator is definitely contributing! His cool and soft narration makes this brilliantly written book to be a must listened book!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • john allen
    9/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really enjoyed"

    a new take on willpower . willpower explained in a psychological way . A must read for people who want more willpower

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    9/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Lots of Great Strategies For Getting Stuff Done"

    I was quite skeptical about this book as I am of all self-help books. It does have a couple of the classic "self-help" mumbo-jumbo pitfalls, but it really does seem to be a genuine how-to guide for applying the experimental work in behavioural psychology to self-control challenges. I found the writing to be good, the experiments interesting and well explained, and the conclusions to be clever and applicable.

    I think an example is best. One chapter is about how people tend to overestimate their abilities in the future - e.g. I can smoke a cigarette now because tomorrow I will quit. This is in comparison to the fact that people tend to be the same over time (and will tend to continue to smoke!). So how to deal with this excuse making? The method suggested in this book is instead of trying to stop doing something, or start doing something, you should try and reduce the variability of something. For example, agree with yourself that if you smoke ten cigarettes today, then you will also smoke ten tomorrow and the next day etc. In this way you don't let yourself lie and say tomorrow I'll be better, you are forcing yourself to be as bad tomorrow as you are today. It's a simple trick, but one that I've already used to improve on something I'd been stuck on.

    The book is like this - a facet of human self-control, experiments examining behaviour and suggested ways to use these experiments to improve your self-control. It is interesting, well written and full of good ideas. Well worth listening if you have self-control issues like me!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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