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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It Paperback – December 31, 2013
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"Play Life More Beautifully" by Andrew Harvey and Seymour Bernstein
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—Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else
"The Willpower Instinct is a new kind of self-help book. Using science to explain the why and strategies for the how, McGonigal has created a must-read for anyone who wants to change how they live in both small and big ways."
"Each chapter could stand on its own as something helpful, but taken as a whole, this book could be downright life-altering. If you are trying to lose weight, become more successful at work, rid yourself of toxic habits...heck, if you're HUMAN, you need to read this book."
“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 bestselling Brain Lock
” **** out of four.”
—USA Today Book Review
“A fun and readable survey of the field, bringing willpower wisdom out of the labs.”
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Not so with this book.
While the book offers the regular mix of science, personal experiences and tips, it's more down-to-earth than other books I have read. Maybe that's because it's based on a course that actually dealt with people going through the motions described in this book.
Usually, I read a book, highlight what I think makes sense and move on without incorporating what I just noted. In this case, I'm remembering on a daily basis what the author wrote and implementing her suggestions. It might actually be the last self-help book I ever read.
As the above evidence suggests, I can't rave enough about this book. It's a gem, it's a god-send, and it's just that good. You'll have to read for yourself to see what all this gushing is about, but for now, here's a small sampling in the form of the titles' chapters with the author Kelly's big idea summary of each:
***Chapter 1: I Will, I Won't, I Want--What Willpower Is, and Why It Matters
Willpower is actually three powers--I will, I won't, and I want--that help us to be a better version of ourselves.
***Chapter 2: The Willpower Instinct--Your Body Was Born to Resist Cheesecake
Willpower is a biological instinct, like stress, that evolved to help protect ourselves from ourselves.
***Chapter 3: Too Tired to Resist--Why Self-Control Is Like a Muscle
Self-control is like a muscle. It gets tired from use, but regular exercise makes it stronger.
***Chapter 4: License to Sin--Why Being Good Gives Us Permission to Be Bad
When we turn willpower challenges into measures of moral worth, being good gives us permission to be bad. For better self-control, forget virtue, and focus on goals and values.
***Chapter 5:The Brain's Big Lie--Why We Mistake Wanting for Happiness
Our brains mistake the promise of reward for a guarantee of happiness, so we chase satisfaction from things that do not deliver.Read more ›
I've already recommended the book to a number of my friends and family members and am happy to do the same here.
The writing is clear and funny, the research is interesting and accessible, and the exercises are really useful. Highly recommend!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book had real research in it -- her's and that of others. Plan to reread it. Worth the money, appreciate the true stories in it, and have used some of the information in it... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Sandra Miller
As a health psychologist and educator at the Stanford School of Medicine's Health Improvement Program, Kelly McGonigal's job is to help people manage stress and make healthy... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Rosa Frei
The ideas in this book are so much bigger than just stopping a bad habit or starting a good one. Self-control affects every choice you make - specially the ones you're not even... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Nick Nicacio
This is an outstanding book, loaded with research on how our minds are influenced, how we actually make choices vs how we think we make choices, and a very practical set of steps... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Irene
Easy to read. Lots of practical examples and suggestions. Love the numerous scientific studies supporting the advice.Published 11 days ago by M. Harrison
Must have book for everybody that want to know how the inside of the human (you're too) complicated brain
Functions in life. Read more
Super helpful! I recommend this to anyone who feels short on willpower and has the want to fix that!Published 17 days ago by Avi