The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal

There's nothing like starting off the New Year with a book about willpower, am I right?  Actually, choosing to read this book was a little out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did.  Turns out, it really was the perfect book to kick off a new year. 

The Willpower Instinct:  How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It is a completely enthralling look at the ins and outs of willpower (or lack thereof).  At a time of year when almost everyone is examining their lifestyle, making resolutions, and committing to change, it was very helpful to read this book and make note of tips that might help me succeed with some changes of my own.

Dr. McGonigal's book is easily organized into ten chapters, each covering a different aspect of willpower.  While she effectively explains the science behind each idea, the scientific details never dominated the discussion.  There was just enough science to explain the hows and whys without overwhelming my not-so-scientific mind.  Each chapter also contains real-life examples from courses she has taught on this subject at Stanford University, which interested me quite a bit.  Finally, and perhaps most helpfully, each chapter also includes a willpower experiment and tips to think about your own behavior as related to the chapter's topic.  McGonigal suggests choosing a specific willpower challenge as you read the book, but most of her tips and experiments can also be applied in small increments to any sort of willpower challenge you're facing.

Some of my favorite suggestions include:
--Take the virtue out of decision making...stop thinking of every decision  as "good" or "bad"
--Emphasis on long-term view and thoughts; Keep your big goal in mind to help with the many small decisions that can affect it (This was particularly helpful for me on some of my challenges, to notice all the steps that go into a decision-making process and to think about the end goal almost constantly.)
-- Committing to any small, consistent act of self-control can actually help increase your overall willpower (ex:  focus on something such as tracking your spending or cutting back on sweets)  (I love this one too!)
--Remember what works as your encouragement--for example, notice how good it feels after you exercise and remind yourself of that.  One lady went so far as to leave herself a voicemail for encouragement.  (I need to do this with yoga and running.)

I underlined and highlighted throughout the book, and I've already shared many things I learned with friends and coworkers.  I can safely say this is a book I will be coming back to again and again.

What kind of shape is your willpower in right now?  Find more reviews and interesting discussion of this book on BlogHer.

**I am compensated for my participation in the BlogHer Book Club, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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