Sunday, August 3, 2014

Book Report: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

"The Willpower Instinct" was written in 2011 by Kelly McGonigal. In the book, McGonical explores the field and science of self-control and how it can be used to change things in our lives such as the amount of health, happiness, and productivity we have. "The Willpower Instinct" explains why willpower is important and why/how it works. Having strong willpower will make for a good life, but having high willpower will make better everything including our relationships, leaders, and friends. All of these things can become extremely complex and demanding but one must work through everything so he/she can have a better understanding. Another important part of willpower is being able to have self control. When it comes to self control, there are two sides: I will and I won't. To get passed the two sides, you need a third, which is figuring out what you want. This part is always the hardest and can take serious work.

The book also focuses on how our body was born to use willpower instinctively. For example, when a person walks past a certain food that they love, they begin to crave it. After this moment, every single cell in a person's body is telling them to eat it and this is when the person has to either resist it or go against their willpower and eat it. Craving something is both a physical and psychological event that takes place, which can either hurt someone or help them when they experience a craving. When we see something we like or want, our brain releases something called dopamine, which plays tricks on one's actions, planning, motivation, and attention. This is when one is forced to work against his/her life long goals and try and get rid of the craving, which is not easy for everyone.

My favorite part of the book was in Chapter 3, where McGonical focuses on how self control is like a muscle. In the chapter, I found it interesting that one can use self control and integrate it the same way you do exercises for physical muscles. For example, what does one do during finals week? Instead of studying throughout the semester, many will run to the library and cram everything in at once for tests for days and days. This takes an extremely large amount of willpower and can be quite exhausting for many students. On the other hand, some students work better like this, making it easier for them to remember and having things fresh in their minds. When students do this, they use it all up and stop using it in other areas of their life. Every ounce of willpower comes from the same place. After a while, self control can become limited and more self control we use, the less active our brain becomes.

In Chapter 4, it briefly explains why being good gives one the permission to be bad. I believe this is one hundred percent true in our society. For example, if a person goes to the gym six days a week, works their butt off, eats fairly healthy, and constantly does good deeds, they deserve a cheat day, or a "night out." Not necessarily saying they deserve to do something explainable bad, but just something that excuses them from being good all the time, every day. Some people will do this if they are on a diet. For instance, if they have eaten good all week and want to splurge, they will treat themselves with candy or dessert. It is important for one to do this every so often so that they feel good about themselves and feel rewarded.

Chapter 6: What The Hell: How Feeling Bad Leads to Giving In. Do I give in? Yes, a lot actually. And I always thought it was a bad thing, but according to the book, giving in makes you stronger. There were times where I would feel bad for someone and promise myself that I would not give in, but I would anyway. Like the book says, giving in makes people compassionate and caring people.

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