Book Review: The Willpower Instinct

This is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club.
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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of ItThe Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is my word one review of this book: fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.

Reading this book made me feel like I was being embraced at the smart kid table. Even though I only got a low 20 on my ACT it no longer mattered, the smart kids were more than willing to share with me their secrets. Even though I didn’t know it before I joined them for lunch, I really needed to know all their secrets. You see the smart people are the ones who get willpower. Because they ever so intellectually understand the research; they know what they have to do to drink milk not soda, avoid the desserts all together, and most importantly NOT say anything EVER that is going to be offensive. (Well, I guess I did kind of know I needed that last one.)

I would love to follow around the author of this book: Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. and a professor at Stanford. I want to watch her every move and I want to question her incessantly at how much of the information she uses from her research to guide her every day decisions. I laugh as I imagine the endless scenarios: Starbucks (are you getting that coffee just because you didn’t get enough sleep last night?), Checking e-mail (Are you checking it out of habit, is this what you really want to be doing right now?), Vending machine (Are you not getting the healthy option just because it’s there?). Read the book. You’ll quickly understand.

All kinds of interesting people find their own willpower by attending McGonigal’s seminar, and for the rest of us less-interesting folks who can’t afford to go to California, there is the book. I think I would prefer to attend the seminar, but the book sometimes just has to do the trick because it’s all we’ve got. I did a quick read of this book for this review, but the next time I pick it up (and there will be a next time) I plan to read it as it was originally intended: a self-guided master through a willpower challenge in my life. I think the book will be much more powerful when used a bit at a time towards a real-life obstacle, especially for those of us from the lower end of the IQ spectrum who (cough cough) have a hard time retaining all the amazingly fascinating information.

Great read and I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially those of us that are sick of fighting the same battles of willpower over and over again. And really, isn’t that all of us? Even the kids at the smart table had to learn this for themselves; they just did it before the rest of us suckers.

View all my reviews

Here is an interesting small workshop I found on youtube.


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