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

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Penguin, Dec 29, 2011 - Psychology - 272 pages
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 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, readers 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 readers with goals ranging from losing weight to more patient parenting, less procrastination, better health, and greater productivity at work.

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Listened to audio book, now on my third pass.
When I had trouble giving in to something, Grandpa always said "You just need a little more Willy." referring to my apparent lack of willpower. Grandpa
was a great example of strong willpower, but he didn't know where it came from or how to grow it.
I am so relieved on hearing this book. It helped me make sense of an area in my life that was so important and yet I felt so powerless to do anything about. Now I have some tools and ideas to move on and do. I don't need excuses why I failed in the past. I just need some simple changes in habits that will very much improve my future.
I laugh and cry at the same time. "The heart is decietful and desparately wicked. Who can know it?" How I have fooled myself. I was at the mercy of my own false ideas, beliefs, and of those accumulated from culture and family. But now I have a fighting chance.
I would recommend this book to anyone. "The unexamined life is not worth living." More like the unexamined life is needlessly painful. Save yourself a lot of pain and failure.

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Great read. Starting my 2nd reading. Got a lot out of it.


Title Page
Your Body Was Born to Resist Cheesecake
Why SelfControl Is Like a Muscle
Why Being Good Gives Us Permission to Be
Why We Mistake Wanting for Happiness
How Feeling Bad Leads to Giving
The Economics of Instant Gratification
EIGHT Infected Why Willpower Is Contagious
The Limits of I Wont Power
TEN Final Thoughts

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About the author (2011)

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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