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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (2011)

by Kelly McGonigal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1244017,950 (4.11)12
McGonigal 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.
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» See also 12 mentions

English (42)  Spanish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
challenging informative inspiring reflective fast-paced
FRTC ( )
  WRXtacy | Sep 6, 2023 |
Interesting book with a number of inspiring ideas. The only downside is I get inspired for a bit then forget to apply them. Going to try a few of them again... ( )
  toddtyrtle | Dec 28, 2022 |
One of the most comprehensive books about self-control and willpower.
Explains willpower using insights from economics, psychology, neuroscience, and medicine, and provides tested strategies to help you improve self-control, overcome distraction, temptation and procrastination.

It's clear, engaging and humorous. There's a nice blend of scientific/research background, detailed examples and practical tips/strategies. But the writing can be roundabout at times and there’s a fair amount of repetition and overlapping ideas. Would've also preferred if Mcgonigal also helped to connect the dots more. And I like that she didn't rely on 1 basic scientific idea or framework, but explores the topic using a range of concepts from psychology, economics and neuroscience.

What it covers:
• The 3 components of willpower (I will, “I won’t” and I want) that determine if you can exercise self-control when you need it.
• Why you lose self-control due to the effects of your brain and body, how willpower works like muscles, how we give ourselves the license to sin, how we confuse desire and happiness, how giving in to indulgences makes us feel worse, why we make bad long-term decisions, how willpower is affected by social influences, and why suppressing/denying your feelings or impulses will only backfire.
• What you can do about each of the factors above, including a list of practical exercises and strategies to help you develop self-awareness and address real-life challenges.

Book summary at: https://readingraphics.com/book-summary-the-willpower-instinct/ ( )
  AngelaLamHF | Jul 31, 2022 |
A huge amount of information in this book. Because of this book I have begun to meditate for 5 min before I go to bed. I am more aware of my actions now after reading this book.
It was nice to read! Lots of jokes and anecdotes with specific examples of applying ideas. This dude is a good writer. ( )
  penelopez | Jun 22, 2022 |
Engaging, insightful, and full of helpful advice. ( )
  nosborm | Oct 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McGonigal, Kellyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dixon, WalterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martí Pérez, NuriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavlatos, TinaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thủy, KhánhTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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McGonigal 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.

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Book description
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.

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