The Willpower Instinct - Book Review

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
Book review 

Kevin and I found it rather humorous that for the first time I've ever been asked to be part of the BlogHer book club, it was for this book in particular. Not that I'm lacking self control or anything. Well except when it comes to dogs and goats.

We all have things we need to work on, or could be better at... and I'm not talking about, say, painting, riding a horse, or driving a car... I'm talking about things like self control, self love, patience, forgiveness, the really important things that make us who we are and allow us to live a fuller more fulfilling life.

This book is about Willpower, the willpower as the author Kelly McGonigal uses as examples to, not eat a donut when you are on a diet, not take a drink if you are trying to quit drinking, or not check a text message you received while driving (it also gets into some bigger self control challenges that some people face). We use it everyday and I think most of the time we don't realize we are making decisions that required us to use our willpower at all, but sometimes we do realize because we have to make a conscious effort to use it. I don't have a problem with resisting a donut if I'm not supposed to have it, or wanting to answer a text message while I'm driving but there are plenty of things in my own life that require me to use willpower, and sometimes I fail. We all have those things.

I found parts of this book very useful, and I did take away a few tips for practicing better willpower, like meditation. The authors writes that that "one study found that just three hours of meditation practice led to improved self attention and self control. After eleven hours, researchers could see those changes in the brain." So if you are new at meditating, it's motivational to know it doesn't take a lifetime of very dedicated meditation to see results, and knowing that will definitely help you stick to it. It's proof that you can start to see positive results from simple five minute meditations quite quickly.

I learned some things about the human brain that were fascinating. My favorite parts of this book were the authors explanations of how the human brain functions and how our willpower can be taken away from us from injuries to the brain for example. I found the last chapter titled "Don't read this chapter" the most fascinating. It talks about things such as why thought suppression doesn't work. Trying to stop negative thoughts or push them from our mind can actually be more harmful than acknowledging them and moving on.

Throughout the book are little tests and projects for you to do, to learn more about the way you think and to help you become more in tune with your thoughts, and willpower instincts. In that last chapter is where I found the most useful experiment for me, entitled "Feel what you feel, but don't believe everything you think." It teaches you to stop and recognize if what you are telling yourself is actually harmful and non productive.

I have to admit I did find parts of the book very repetitive, especially in the first chapter and felt like I was reading the same point being made over and over again, which gets very boring. But over all, I found parts of the book useful and did learn from it. I found it a useful self help book for anyone who wants to know more about the way their mind works and wants to find ways to practice more self control, and learn how to become more productive at finishing projects and meeting goals they set for themselves.

*"I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own."


I need to read the part about not killing your husband when he cooks a can of cinnamon rolls knowing that his wife is on a sugar restricted diet.......

Sounds like a fascinating book! Thanks for the honest review. The part about meditation sounds interesting.
Primitive Stars said…
Sounds so interesting......What will power, tee hee......Blessings Francine.

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