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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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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

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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

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • United States
  • 12-20-12

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.<br/>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.<br/>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. <br/>THIS IS A GREAT, VERY INFORMATIVE BOOK!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam
  • United States
  • 04-14-13

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.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Best Book On This Subject...

since Tom Miller's 1986 classic The Unfair Advantage. McGonigal combines knowledge from behavioral psychology and the newer brain science to show how willpower is not just an abrupt act of decision but rather a long training--or retraining--of the brain in the positive ways that you want your life to go. Like Miller, McGonigal shows that willpower is not so much an instantly claimed virtue as it is steady, plodding day-to-day programming of the self, taking small but regular steps toward your personal goals of development. Miller's great line was "No one has willpower except guys named Will." This is the great message of both books: willpower is not an abstraction that can be seized at a moment's notice when temptation arises, but a cultivated personal power, an individual course that can only be constructed a day at a time by any given individual.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Sue
  • HOUSTON, TX, United States
  • 11-07-12

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

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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

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  • B3rn41987
  • 12-12-15

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!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Jones
  • 11-23-17

Great book

this book was very helpful and some good tips for improving my willpower or just identifying a possible slip before it happens.

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  • Mum from Devon
  • 07-27-17

thought provoking

an excellent evaluation of willpower. It really does a great job of opening your eyes to the different thought processes we all go through when making decisions, both good and bad. I highly recommend it!

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  • Taryn
  • 07-26-17

Interesting reading

Well put together and easy to get through in a short amount of time. Lots of good tips for challenging yourself in the will power techniques dept

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  • Alison
  • 07-06-17

Excellent information

Found the information on willpower extremely helpful. Narration was good. It can be applied to every aspect of your life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-29-17

Exceptional!

Quite simply the best book I have 'read' on the will/willpower.
Practical advice that's not overly complex or hard to remember.
Written by a PHD but not at all up itself or hard to follow for a non academic type like me!!!
Even considering getting the print version in the future.

Thank-you :-)

Brilliant!!!!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-10-17

Wonderful Presentation​

Liked the audio book.Complicated facts made simple.Every chapter different. The narrator made it interesting.for Indians the narrator would be the first choice if given a choice .

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  • Daniel
  • 05-09-17

incredibly insightful and informative

Science led lessons on how our minds work, make this book truly helpful and useful for all who read it. Best I've listened to in a long time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-28-17

Practical and helpful

Brilliant, well-researched... epiphany-triggering! Would've preferred the author's own voice instead of the formulaic and sometimes robotic narrator that was selected.

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  • T
  • 04-26-17

Great book

it was a really good book. I just couldn't stop listening. it gives a lot of the science behind the self improvement/self help ideas that have gained popularity lately. if you want to find out how to make lasting changes to your life, I would highly recommend