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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It Hardcover – December 29, 2011
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"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." - Book Page
"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." -- Library Thing Review
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
1. The book's writing could be improved. It also follows a self-help formulaic messaging format. She gave a lecture at Google (also on youtube) where she makes an effective case.
2. The part where this book is weak: how to improve willpower in the long run. The author goes through a laundry list that includes slow breathing, meditation, exercise, getting sufficient sleep, relaxing, etc.
Many of the studies she mentions are interesting, but of mixed value as the behavior modification results are related to the short-term, at the time scale of months. Meaningful changes are measured in years. Dieters know this very well. And the long-term failure rate high.
Bottom line: what the author recommends -- being more aware of one's impulsive tendencies and training oneself to be less susceptible -- is well-intentioned and useful. However, it is the difficulty implementing them in daily life, under real-life conditions, in the long run, that is the vexing problem. And on this front, the book falls short.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written book that will give you several powerful methods for increasing willpower. The book is derived from the authors class on the subject that she's teaches at Stanford. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Montel J
A wonderful book that makes you think and then act if you wish to change your life. I am taking baby steps and it works. Easy read, harder to apply.Published 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Research and conclusions, and real-life applications put together in a very readable formula (truly a self-help book, in the best sense of the term). Read morePublished 21 days ago by Flora Pudelkova
Not a wow book, but very fact based with too many relevant examples. Worth reading...Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
It is a good books. If someone decides to read and act upon it. He/She will be much better than today in terms of their goals achievement and success.Published 27 days ago by ziacivil
I got so much more out of this book than understanding willpower. It helped me understand how I think and how I would like to think. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Sunnysideotown
Practical and enjoyable. Dr. McGonigal presents hers and others research on willpower in a useful way. She is not dogmatic. I found the experiments very helpful. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Scott Trahan