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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon March 23, 2012
Formerly called "The Willpower Instinct" by McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford School of Medicine where she teaches a course called "The Science of Willpower" that quickly became the most popular classes ever offered by Stanford. Course evaluations call the course "life-changing". She brings together the newest insights about self-control from psychology, economics, neuroscience and medicine to build willpower.

The book's 10 chapters reflect her 10-week course, written in an interesting and easy style, without any "academic pompousness":

1. effective willpower - just noticing what's happening is key
2. the willpower instinct - anything that puts a stress on your mind or body can sabotage self-control but too much willpower is stressful
3. self-control is like a muscle - it gets tired from use but regular exercise makes it stronger
4. why being good encourages bad behavior - we use past good behavior to justify indulgences
5. why we mistake wanting for happiness - even false promises of reward make us feel alert and captivated, so we chase satisfaction from things that don't deliver
6. how feeling bad leads to giving in - self-compassion is a far better strategy than beating ourselves up
7. we discount both future rewards and future costs - we consistently act against our own long-term interests and we illogically believe our future selves will (magically) have more willpower
8. why willpower is contagious - humans are hardwired to connect and we mimic and mirror both willpower failures and willpower successes of our social network
9. inner acceptance improves outer control - attempts to fight instincts and desires ironically make them worse
10. final thoughts - the aha moment

Each chapter makes use of fascinating paradoxes to dispel common misconceptions about self-control. While I preferred the deeper "Willpower" by Tierney and Baumeister (who has studied contradictory human behavior for decades), this book is way ahead of any others I've read on the subject, for its wide range of down-to-earth and practical strategies for greater success. Another excellent book is "Willpower: The Owner's Manual - 12 Tools for Doing the Right Thing" by Frank Martela PhD.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
Kelly has written a great book - explaining the science behind self-control and how we can improve our willpower. I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2013
The thing I really liked about this book was the amount of verifiable research behind all the claims and statements, which were all delivered in an enjoyable and accessible fashion. Possibly life-altering if I can find the willpower to apply anything it said.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
The sort of book that has you constantly interrupting yr kids to say "Wow! Listen to this...". Very hard to put down, well written, and definately worth the purchase price
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on February 20, 2015
I've reviewed many other books about will power and this is the best I've read. Very practical
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on January 31, 2015
Fantastic book which gave me invaluable insight upon why people do stuff we don't understand
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on July 24, 2015
Very useful
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