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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Loved it!

An excellent read for anyone looking to make a lifestyle change! Definitely listen through to the end because there are some gems towards the end!

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Remarkably well done and plenty in depth

Although the narrator was good, HE is not Dr. Mcgonigal and not even female. I would have much preferred hear the author or at least a woman's voice for this enormously popular Stanford educator's treatment of an age old problem. This book will NOT disappoint, however, and that small point should not discourage you......

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Great set of tools for Self control, loved!!!

Completed the audio book for the first time. Sure enough to go through few more times to grab different techniques and bring to daily routines. Fantastic job, keep up the good work. Planning to buy the physical version for my personal library. Thank you!

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Superb toolkit to understand oneself

I loved this book. it relies on a wealth of scientific research and useful conclusions that can help you understand and observe your own desires and inner battles closely as if you are just an onlooker.

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useful guide for self improvement

I'm going to read this book a second time so that I can let the lessons really sink in. I look forward to the potential for self improvement.

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I quit some bad habits just listening to this book

For years now I have struggled with the use of tobacco. With the help of this book I was actually able to break that cycle before I even finish the book. It gives you a new way to think of things that one might call habits. Whether it's food shopping or consumables such as tobacco or alcohol this book teaches you to recognize the signs and to help you build the inner strength to make decision ultimately want to make.

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OK if you like self-help

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No. I could have gotten as much actual information from a much shorter piece.

What could Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I don't like the self-help genre with its anecdotes about patients/students, and suggested activities. I had heard that this book was more of a piece of science writing so I was disappointed to find that while it contains references to studies, it is definitely not science writing.

What aspect of Walter Dixon’s performance would you have changed?

Along the self-help genre complaint, I felt that he was speaking down to me the way he inflected many sentences. Probably just the writing though. His voice was pleasant.

Do you think The Willpower Instinct needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, but I would like to see a re-framing of the book to be a piece of science writing. I like to learn about scientists and how they have discovered things, studied them, and come up with theories.

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Worth every drop of patience.

A bit slow at times, but all the information is a huge eye opener in everyone's life. You'll relate to more than one situation studied.

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Studies show...

It gives a good impression of what willpower is and how to avoid procrastination.

Overall I found it boring and did not learn too much. Note I have been reading similar books, articles so it could be I'm to negative.

Studies show that your finding are deemed credible if you start your sentences with 'studies show'. In

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You will love this one

If you like self help books; you will love this one.

Just the right amount of science to keep you wanting to listen more; and not overwhelmed by the medical jargon. Dr. McGonigal argues that it is okay to have cravings and you do not have to fight them, instead, embrace them.

It is true that this book doesn't provide you with a step-by-step program; so I urge you to listen to (Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results) by Stephen Guise, a really good follow up.