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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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  •  
    Jill M. Stecher Fullerton, CA USA 10-24-12
    Jill M. Stecher Fullerton, CA USA 10-24-12 Member Since 2014

    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.


    15 of 20 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.

    12 of 16 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 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson 03-15-15
    Nelson 03-15-15
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    "Is great"

    I learn a lot it works great it help realize why I couldn't stick with a diet plan. The narrator made things a lot easier.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 12-13-13
    Teresa NAMPA, ID, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2014

    Hello, my name is Teresa and I'm an addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It takes willpower to finish this audiobook."

    Although it had some interesting points, and some good ideas to help with self-control I probably won't be using it much. I purchased this for my sister when it was on sale, since she has no self-control. I figured I would listen and see if it can give me pointers. I am basically happy with my life so that may be why I don't need willpower help. Only when it comes to buying audiobooks ha, ha. After three chapters, I really didn't want to finish it and that was after I only listened to one chapter a week. I'm not really into self-help books so take this review with a grain of salt. Every once in a while I get one such as Gretchen Rubin, Stephen Covey, and Dave Ramsey.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nishant New Delhi, India 05-18-13
    Nishant New Delhi, India 05-18-13
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    "Nice strucuture, good content"
    What did you love best about The Willpower Instinct?

    Great content


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Narrator was very slow. I had to listen on 2x.


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

    It was 8 hours long. I listened to it over a few sessions across a few days.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Wesport, CT, United States 05-16-13
    Andrew Wesport, CT, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2011

    Westport, CT

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    "Worth reading"

    This one is definitely worth reading, it is a good laymans interpretation on research out there on human behavior.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 04-28-13
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 04-28-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Informative AND Entertaining"

    I enjoyed every bit of this book. It gave me a great insight in to will power both physiologically and psychologically. I found myself regularly staying... "I do that". It also came with helpful tips on how to develop your will power. I'll be dipping in to this book regularly to develop my own willpower. I definitely recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Mount Louisa, Australia 03-22-13
    Paul Mount Louisa, Australia 03-22-13 Member Since 2015

    Hi, I work in I.T. and am a freelance photographer. Just love this site, and always happy to discuss books, photography or just plain life. Feel free to drop me a line, I'm always looking to meet interesting people.

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    "Intelligent, witty, evidence based, DO NOT MISS!"
    Where does The Willpower Instinct rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This tittle is easily the top listen if you want to change your life for the better.


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

    Funny, humourious and intelligent, to many revelations to mention.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    I loved this narrator, so entertaining and easy to understand. Will listen to again and again.


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

    Impossible to nail down one, it really makes sence why we are like we are.


    Any additional comments?

    Do yourself a faviour and download this one - its a real page turner!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Edmond, OK, United States 02-21-13
    Susan Edmond, OK, United States 02-21-13 Member Since 2008
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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 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 211 results PREVIOUS123422NEXT
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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.

    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
  • J. Whittaker
    4/5/14
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    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.


    1 of 1 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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