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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

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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 (5599 )
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Performance
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  •  
    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.


    26 of 31 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.


    9 of 11 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 2016

    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.


    22 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    15 of 19 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.

    4 of 5 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.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ashley Atwood, KS, United States 06-15-16
    ashley Atwood, KS, United States 06-15-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Listen! Scientific and practical"

    For me, the big takeaway is that Will power is like a muscle to be exercised and strengthened. Self control is not only important to have personally, but is also quite contagious (so it's important to have some AND surround yourself with people who have some.)
    The Scientific studies are insightful and the practical application is helpful. I love that this is based on a college course that has been taught several times, so the author knows what is helpful and interesting. The anecdotes about her students add a personal touch that I enjoyed.
    It was very fascinating to hear about all the different reasons we seem to run out of Willpower and the psychology of our justifications.
    I really enjoyed this book. it was easy to follow and fascinating. The information was laid out in an entertaining and insightful manner. The narrator was great. Highly recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 01-13-16
    Simone 01-13-16 Member Since 2016

    Follow me on Goodreads too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Practical"

    This book was recommended to me by a friend after I told him how I’m very good at not buying junk food when grocery shopping, but when I throw a party I go nuts and pig out … especially on chips!! In fact, I use the excuse of the party to buy a separate bag just for me!!

    Ok, I can see how that would appear to be a lack of willpower… but I maintain that it’s not! I think it’s a less than monthly reward for showing all that willpower at the grocery store on a weekly basis.

    I decided to get the book anyway because I really believe that even if you are not looking for self-improvement, a nugget of good advice can come from anywhere and make a positive difference in your life. As predicted, the book was essentially all about identifying your triggers and understanding your motives; but not solely… I especially enjoyed learning about how I am being socially engineered into making choices that I think I am making of my own free will.

    I found some of the tricks and hints practical, but I still maintain that abstaining from a bag of delicious Wavy Lay’s except for when I am throwing a party fits in perfectly with the demonstrated strategies.

    It’s a good book to have as a resource if I ever really do feel like I am struggling with willpower. If my chips turn into a weekly irresistible indulgence, this book will most definitely come in handy!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Henderson 05-14-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Good Insight"

    The narrator was very good. The information was insightful in human nature, and it was helpful. It deserves multiple listenings.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy 08-06-12
    Andy 08-06-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    20 of 30 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.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Ms K L Heath
    11/17/15
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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..


    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • SaiKiran
    1/21/16
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    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • J. Whittaker
    4/5/14
    Overall
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    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.


    11 of 13 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..

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    7/31/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing book!"

    It teaches you so many techniques you can practice! It's great. I'll keep listening to it until i get the hang of willpower instinct.

    2 of 2 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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • katof9tails
    4/21/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent self-help book"

    This book has really worked for me. My background is in science, so hearing about the research helps me to understand WHY the strategies suggested will work. That gives me confidence in them & for me, I have to believe in something for it to work. There are 10 chapters & the author suggests that you can listen to the whole thing or go through a chapter a week & practice the strategies you like for a week before going onto the next. I'm doing both. I've listened to the whole book (handy journey to London), and am going back through in slow time, allowing for weekly practice. You are assisted in identifying what it is you need to change & how to use strategies for that. You are given a choice of things that you can do & you can pick the one(s) that you are attracted to do. It works if you practice - listening on its own won't do much. Early days yet, but I have seen positive changes already. Different people respond to different ways of doing things, so this won't work for everyone, but it feels really flexible & I would say it is well worth a try as long as you are prepared to put in a bit of work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Petra
    3/28/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book!"

    Very, very interesting, fascinating book. Lots of ideas & suggestions for improving your willpower. Thank you

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Santiago Ruiz-Valdepeñas Martín de Almagro
    Madrid, Spain
    10/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing content, it is helping me a lot."

    Clear, compelling science based strategies to achieve your willpower challenges.
    The chapter about dopamine and the promise of reward was especially enlightening for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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