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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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  •  
    MsclQuake 04-01-12
    MsclQuake 04-01-12

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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    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 2013

    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
  •  
    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 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
  •  
    Sylvia Tidwell 05-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Extremely helpful"

    Extremely helpful, really. Looks like I have to write 12 more words. I recommend highly. About to start over to listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert A. Hawthorne, Jr. Baton Rouge, LA United States 05-30-15
    Robert A. Hawthorne, Jr. Baton Rouge, LA United States 05-30-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Informative and practical"
    What made the experience of listening to The Willpower Instinct the most enjoyable?

    The information was very useful and practical. The writing was clever and entertaining. The reading was excellent.


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

    The listing of steps we could all take to increase our willpower was enlightening.


    Which character – as performed by Walter Dixon – was your favorite?

    NA


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

    It was not designed for one sitting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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