The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It
"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, … see full wiki
Why is it that we don't do the things we should be doing, and we end up doing the things we know will not help us in the long run? Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. covers that very topic in her book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It. While it might sound like yet another self-improvement book, Willpower actually explains the "why" of how the brain works (backed by her experience with students in a course with the same name) and offers practical steps to implement in a ten week program. It's already got me re-thinking on-the-spot decisions, and that's a good thing.
Contents: Welcome to Willpower 101; I Will, I Won't, I Want - What Willpower Is, and Why It Matters; The Willpower Instinct - Your Body Was Born to Resist Cheesecake; Too Tired to Resist - Why Self-Control Is Like a Muscle; Permission to Sin - Why Being Good Gives Us Permission to Be Bad; The Brain's Big Lie - Why We Mistake Wanting for Happiness; What the Hell - How Feeling Bad Leads to Giving In; Putting the Future on Sale - The Economics of Instant Gratification; Infected! Why Willpower is Contagious; Don't Read This Chapter - The Limits of "I Won't" Power; Final Thoughts; Acknowledgements; Notes
The book is designed to be read much like you were in her course. Reading one chapter a week allows you to think about the material as it applies to a goal you've chosen to work through. The steps build on each other, and you end up with a good understanding about why you do the things you do, as well as techniques that help you overcome the failure triggers of the past. Even the mere understanding of will-power, won't-power, and want-power is powerful enough to break you out of your mold. It certainly did for me...
What also makes Willpower a great book is that McGonigal is a very good writer. She mixes in science, reality, and humor in a way that makes it a fun read that doesn't feel like a normal self-improvement book. The examples hit home in a deep way, and the phrase "I could take that step" went through my mind more than once. Now that I've read through the entire book once (but not in the one-chapter-per-week model), I plan on re-reading it using the recommended approach. With the overall concepts in place, I want to take each week's worth of material and apply it specifically. The only hard part will be to choose what broken part to work on first...
The annual rite of New Year's resolutions is coming up. Rather than blow them all by January 4th, pick up a copy of The Willpower Instinct and put some structure behind your resolutions. If you plug away, you'll be a far different person by March 1st, 2013 than you were on January 1st.
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