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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 – 29 Dec 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Avery Publishing Group (29 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583334386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334386
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Hardcover. Pub Date: December 2011 Pages: 272 Publisher: Avery Publishing Group The first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health. Happiness. And Productivity After years of watching her students struggling with their choices. health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. Ph.D.. 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. McGonigal created a course called The Science of Willpower for Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program. The course was an instant hit and spawned the hugely successful Psychology Today blog with the same name. Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology. economics. neuroscience. and medicine . McGonigal's book explains exactly ...

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Dickson on 31 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 4:57 Mins
Mark Dickson from facebook.com/beefybattlesthebulge reviews Dr Kelly McGonigal's book, The Willpower Instinct. He discusses the reasons behind his 5 star review, and explains how both the paperback and audio versions have helped him lose of 5 stone in weight.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
McGonigal brings together the newest insights about self-control from psychology, economics, neuroscience and medicine to build willpower. She is a health psychologist at Stanford School of Medicine where she teaches a course called "The Science of Willpower" that quickly became the most popular classes ever offered by Stanford. Course evaluations call the course "life-changing".

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 behaviour - we use past good behaviour 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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By david lockwood on 29 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book it is filled with a huge amount of practical information and it references many very interesting studies.
I find it easy to read which is important to me as a dyslexic. It has changed the way I think of willpower in a way that has been useful.
I believe that the information and techniques will continue to be of benefit through my life, in other words BUY IT
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marian Ruzhinov on 8 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the few good self-improvement books. I learned quite a few interesting things about myself :) It has a lot of useful science info on willpower which otherwise would be difficult to find.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kendra noah on 9 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this is easy too read for me as English is not my original language. I watched Kelly's TED talk and loved the way she linked science to real life. This book has very practical tips encouraging you to start making changes and stick with it. It's like she's talking to me in person. Definitely recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Thing on 8 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lots of studies on the subject of willpower are explained in a friendly and easy to understand manner by Kelly McGonigal. The book works well as a self-help manual for building up willpower and overcoming our worst habits and self-defeating behaviours.There are some really surprising and thought-provoking findings which I'm starting to put into use to work on my own problems with procrastination and making bad food choices.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Olga on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A superb summary of the latest research findings in neurophysiology and social psychology for regular people. Presented in ten chapters/lectures with real-life examples, jokes and practical tips and exercises in the end of each chapter. The book focuses on willpower, motivation, how to stay on track and not get distracted, how our choices and decisions are made through interaction of our different multiple selves. The concept of our "two brains" - one, impulsive "fight-flight" and "grab what you can", shaped by survival of our wild ancestors, and another, social, goal-oriented, analythical, Homo sapiens' latest acquisition, can explain a lot in behaviour of oneself and people around.

The book makes you think and, in addition, is a pleasure to read. I could do with fewer examples on excessive shopping (this is an American book, after all), but the author also examines the other problems, addictions and distractions (excessive eating, smoking, internet), and one can easily apply the workings to anything one would like to take control of.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By @souvikstweets on 8 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to start with "Rarely, if ever..." but quite a few of the books I've read lately do a very good job of explicating the science & tie it to specific actions we can take in the light of that science. And this book is no less rewarding if such is your expectation.

In my mind, the greatest value of this book, to start with, is in the mere recognition of willpower problems. For example, during my long (Ok, longish...) runs, I've often given in to a 30 to 60 sec temptation of walking a little. I'd never have thought that this was a willpower challnge & always thought of this as "not pushing too hard, should a injury happen" but this book made me realize if there was cash prize at the end, I could easily push myself to do it. So the question was never really about fatigue, it was about motivation. Similarly, in recognizing the continuous challenges of willpower - from that of indulging while feeling bad or while feeling good, to the futile chases after "happiness", or our mistaken notion of happiness - lies the many tactical takeaways for its readers.

Its made better by the science behind. At least, for those of us that are interested. I'd say here that if you're pursuing a good general & holistic appreciation of the brain's working, this is not the best book (for example, there is no content on memory & how cortisol overdose can lead to chronic stress) but the science is just enough to understand isolated concepts pertaining to the willpower challenge at hand. So if that kind of thing interests you, then you can dig deeper for the actual neurological workings (this book has a great bibliography) after understanding the basics from reading this.

And thirdly, just the plain & simple knowledge of the case studies is empowering.
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