Customer Review

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars practical, research-based solutions for improving self-control, 23 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Maximum Willpower: How to master the new science of self-control (Paperback)
Formerly called "The Willpower Instinct", in this book 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. final thoughts - the aha moment

Each chapter makes use of fascinating paradoxes to dispell common misconceptions about self-control. While I preferred the deeper "Willpower" by Tierney and Baumeister (who has studied contradictory human behaviour for decades), this book is way ahead of any others I've read on the subject, for its wide range of down-to-earth and practical strategies for greater success. Another excellent book is "Willpower: The Owner's Manual - 12 Tools for Doing the Right Thing" by Frank Martela PhD.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Apr 2012 13:32:20 BDT
Thanks for this very helpful review, but I am not sure which you would recommend as between the Tierney and Baumeister book (which you say you prefer and is deeper) and this one (which you say is way ahead of any others you've read for its wide range of down-to-earth and practical strategies). I'm more interested in results than anything else - does that mean I'd be better off with this book, or have I misunderstood? Thanks again. R.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2012 11:37:32 BDT
D&D says:
Yes, for results, this book by McGonigal is the best I have come across.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2012 12:10:00 BDT
Many thanks for confirming this. I shall purchase the McGonigal book for now, and perhaps save the other one as something to read on my next holiday. R.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2013 23:32:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2013 23:33:12 BDT
Jennings says:
You may wish to view this video which is more helpful at understanding perception and belief: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjj0xVM4x1I
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