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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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After years of watching her students struggling with their choices health psychologist McGonigal realized that much of what people believe about willpower is actually sabotaging their success Committed to sharing what the scientific community already knew about self control she created a course called The Science of Willpower which was an instant hit for Stanford University As a health psychologist Kelly McGonigal s job is to help people manage stress and make positive changes in their lives After years of watching her students struggling to control their choices McGonigal realized that much of what people believe about willpower is actually sabotaging their success For example seeing willpower as a virtue can derail our best intentioned goals Instead McGonigal urges her students to understand the biological functions mental traps and social factors that influence our self control Drawing from the newest insights in disciplines such as psychology neuroscience and economics McGonigal created a course for Stanford s Continuing Studies program called The Science of Willpower which participants describe as life changing This course is the foundation of The Willpower Instinct which provides a clear framework for what willpower really is how it works and why it matters Our ability to control our attention emotions appetites and behavior not only greatly influences our health financial security relationships and professional success it is also trainable The Willpower Instinct provides a step by step program for identifying goals strengthening self control and making lifelong changes whether it s weight loss financial health stress reduction conquering procrastination being a better parent or finding your focus Book jacket 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 b
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Self control is limited because it is like a muscle. If you over-use self control, you will deplete your willpower. Kelly mentions that by giving your brain more energy using sugar, you will be able to be stronger mentally. It is a simple trick I will use at around 4:00 pm in my office.
The second insight is the function of dopamine. Dopamine gives a promise of reward. It is the key for a person's motivation. If it is used smartly, the promise of reward can be used when we face mundane tasks. However, the promise of reward does not guarantee happiness. Having the motivation towards a desire (chocolate cake) does not mean it will lead us to happiness (healthy lifestyle).
What-The-Hell effect is interesting. It explores why people sabotage themselves even more, after they lose willpower. People feel guilty after they indulge in their vices; they feel guilty, but they refuse to stop right there. They go, "What the hell" and continue to do more (e.g. ambling, etc). In this case, practicing self-forgiving is important.
I am so glad that Kelly brought up the topic of hyperopic. I can relate to that. I am one who would delay instant gratification until forever. Unlike most people, I feel that I can't enjoy the presence. I wish there was more analysis on this topic. I don't think it is a problem of self-control though. I suspect it is about self confidence...I like the the websites suggestions Kelly gives to help with self control, for example, FutureMe.org.
Last but not least, what drives home for me is the topic of thought suppression. It is a big problem for me that I have been trying to solve. I learned that we can't suppress our thoughts and feelings. Doing so will amplify your feelings. Two years ago, I had a crush on a guy. My feelings got stronger every month as I was secretly wishing there was something more to happen. yet, I was suppressing my feelings. I didn't want to admit it and to tell him my feelings. Suppressing my feelings led me to occupy my mind with images of him, and prevented me from seeing other guys. If I have read this book about suppression, I would have gone through the exercises of accepting and let go. It will save me confusions, anxiety, and shame...
The reason I gave it 3 star is that I don't feel there is a tight integration among all the theories to make it one central point. Or, is there no one central point? I found myself jumping from one topic to another and then trying to analyze my situation using the different concepts.
However, too much of the author's political views were put into the book. If I wanted someone's political views forced on me, I would watch Fox News, CNN or MSNBC.
Unfortunately, the author lived up to the reputation of a stereotypical leftist professor.
I would only recommend buying this book if you are willing to overlook the liberal bias.
This book is full of superfluous anecdotes (examples below) that take away from the content. I wish I didn't feel the way I do about this book, but when I read it I can't help but see a writer who is so caught up with her own Ego that she feels the need to insert what she thinks to be humorous and witty anecdotes on almost every page. It's distracting and a waste of time, energy, and money. The author should have heeded her own advice and used her willpower to resist the urge to add these pointless anecdotes.
I will say this: if you think of yourself as a "nerd" type and want a book about willpower that reads more like an informal conversation with another "nerd," then you will love this book.
I am an avid reader in the self-help genre and do not like this book at all. To give you an idea about the type of books I love, here are a few I have recently read: How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, The Charisma Myth, How to Have Confidence in Dealing With People, and The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
So, although my review will draw some criticism, I hope anyone looking at these reviews will realize that I am not intending to be mean or rude or hurt anyone's feelings, I am just sharing my opinion so that others like me will know that my opinion is held by at least someone.
I like some of what I read in this book but in all honesty, nothing in this book is unique or groundbreaking in this field. A lot of what is discussed in this book is stuff you learn in Psychology 101.
Anyone who hates wasting time or money should not buy this book. If you're a lawyer, you'll hate this book. If you hate verboseness, you'll hate this book.
If you majored in one of the "nerd" subjects in college, have multiple advanced degrees, happen to be a friend of Kelly McGonigal's, and want a cheesy comedy club type atmosphere while reading a book on Willpower, then you might like this book.
Examples of her annoying anecdotes:
", and the dreaded Friday morning spelling test (that's what happens when moms start bringing their kids to class)."
"...worked in the real world, and which fell flat (something a laboratory study can never tell you)."
", even the ones that seem counterintuitive (and there will be plenty)."
"...exact opposite of what the science suggests (after all, science needs skeptics)."
"...my mouth, stomach, heart, or (fill in your anatomical part) wants to say yes."
", and I want to help you achieve your goals (and stay out of trouble)."
"erect spine, and hyoid bone (which allows you to produce some kind of speech, though I'll be damned if I know what it sounds like)."
"Congratulations, too, on your ability to use fire (without setting yourself on fire)."
"(Remember, other homo sapiens have sharp stone tools, too, and your skin is a lot thinner than a hippo's.)"
"...whom you fight with (keep it out of the clan)..."
"...and whom you mate with (not a first cousin, please - you need to increase genetic diversity so that your whole tribe isn't wiped out by one disease)."
"Yes, for you, the (almost) modern human..."
"Back to modern-day life (you can keep your opposable thumbs, of course, though you may want to put on a little more clothing)."
"...of academic success than intelligence (take that, SATs)..."
"...leadership than charisma (sorry, Tony Robbins)..."
"marital bliss than empathy (yes, the secret to lasting marriage may be learning how to keep your mouth shut)."
"Nancy decided to bring out her holiday music and candles (conveniently enough, stored in the spare room!)..."
... p. 139
"Whenever we are reminded of our mortality (say, every twenty-nine seconds on the nightly news),..."
etc. etc. etc.
Maybe you love wasting your time reading these kind of anecdotes. But for me, I hate it so much that it was worth spending 20 minutes to write this review for free. Fortunately for whoever reads this review, I'm not making you pay for my opinions.
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I plan to listen to it again to reinforce many of the concepts addressed.Read more