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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 – Dec 31 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
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  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (Dec 31 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583335080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583335086
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"What a liberating book! McGonigal explains the scientific reality of willpower, exploding the myths most of us believe. Stronger willpower—based on inspiring facts, not oppressive nonsense—is finally within everyone's reach."
—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."
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

“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.”
TIME magazine

About the Author

Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., is an award-winning psychology instructor at Stanford University, and a lecturer and program developer at the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She is also the author of The Upside of Stress and Psychology Today’s Science of Willpower blog. McGonigal lives in Palo Alto and New York City.

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Top Customer Reviews

By Bernie Koenig TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 1 2012
Format: Hardcover
I titled my review that way because that is one of the chapters in the book---don't read this chapter. The chapter talks about how if you tell someone not to think about something, that is all they will think about. The point is that some of the things we think will help willpower are the very things that undermine it.

Each of the nine main chapters are clear and to the point. each discusses one aspect of the willpower issue, from how our brains work to how we think about things, and how the two work together, often to work against our willpower. Then in each chapter, McGonigal presents exercises we can use to overcome the blocks to our willpower.

The book is both theoretical in that it draws on a large range of research, from neurology to sociology to psychology, and very practical, showing how the research can be used in everyday situations.

Among my favorite chapters are: The Willpower Instinct: Your body was born to resist cheesecake, and License to sin: Why being good give us permission to be bad.

I read this book after reading Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, fast and Slow. Willpower was a nice follow up in that, while it did not reference Kahneman, it nevertheless showed some practical applications of what Kahneman was saying.
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Format: Hardcover
Kelly McGonical does an exceptional job writing The WillPower Instinct. I have put more post-it-note reminders throughout this book - almost to the point of one per page. McGonical researched her topic well, provided many empirical references to support various anecdotal examples, and most importantly - she provides copious examples of how to strengthen your own WillPower and Self-Control.

Unlike other books on WillPower, McGonical's focus is on sharing important tidbits that help the reader understand what is important to affecting your own self-control. Then she uses this information with a brief teaching on how to strengthen your own WillPower or abilities.

The writing style is done with good humour throughout (it should reduce your stress to strengthen your WillPower - after all).

Great resource, and exceptional review on an important topic. Best of all - McGonical provides a very down-to-earth, realistic set of small and do-able recommendation for improving your own self-control & WillPower. If you buy no other book this year - buy this one - it is an INVESTMENT that is worth every penny!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are a lot of surprising findings about how your conscious and subconscious minds operate, and how you end up living the life you are living. Unlike other books, there are also practical steps how to change your modus operandi in case you are not happy with it. Just recognizing that the fact of life is that willpower is FINITE opened my eyes, and made me go with the flow. Life became easier. My whole life was like swim up the river. I was supposed to run on my willpower just like my successful and energetic family members around me. And I did, but day in and day out I wasted my precious willpower on things that did not matter and was left with zero power to do the things that do matter to me.
The other surprising tip was that shame and guilt applied to one's self are much less effective that kind gentle forgiveness of oneself. Feeling guilty for failing the diet makes you fail again and again. This really is true.

Lastly, this book reinforced that action that became a habit doesn't waste your willpower. So you can apply it to more important things than cleaning the house and drinking 8 glasses of water, once these two things become automatic.

I highly recommend this book, especially together with "The power of habit"
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think Kelly does a wonderful job in her book of popularizing one effective way of taking more control over one's life. For example, I very much like her references to research related to commercial advertising. I'm a clinical psychology professional, and it always seemed odd to me, with all the problems in our world, that our societies devote so many resources to convincing people that an endless cycle of consumption will allow them to find happiness, just over the next financial mountain. It's so refreshing to find a researcher like Kelly who has the courage to suggest that these corporate emperors have no clothes, or perhaps more accurately, no clothes other than those we provide them. She provides encouraging arguments and examples of how people can use simple interventions to consciously improve their lives, in ways that may benefit themselves, others, and perhaps help make our societies more human as well. If there are any weaknesses in her arguments, they might lie in the somewhat dichotomous descriptions of the frontal lobes overriding the "more primitive" and more automatic emotional core of the brain. There are more recent viewpoints which describe and predict the outcomes that Kelly discusses in a more synergistic way which avoids the idea of an "internal battleground" in one's mind. In any case, Kelly's suggested interventions have been empirically demonstrated to help people help themselves, so I'd recommend readers help themselves to her excellent book.
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