Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Report: The Willpower Instinct

The Willpower Instinct was written by Kelly McGonical in 2011 and I found it to be highly therapeutic and very interesting. This book was designed to assist people with understanding and controlling their own urges and gaining will power in order to fulfill certain aspects of their lives. McGonical explains why willpower is important and exactly why and how it works. For instance, a person who has a strong sense of will power tends to have pretty good control over their life, and ultimately guides the road for prosperous relationships, happiness, and success in short term and long term goals. Having strong willpower is not as easy as it sounds and can be difficult to master. A major aspect of willpower and being able to have a good sense of self control. McGonical puts emphasize on the fact that in order to gain self control and will power you must first understand why you feel you are at loss of control in the first place.
In addition, in my own experience, I do not have the best patience, unfortunately sometimes I have a really short fuse and I am really trying to work on that and better myself. Therefore, I really enjoyed the section of the book when Mcgonical spoke about the “pause and plan” response. Meaning, before we react too quickly without putting much thought behind it, we should first pause, and then plan out our actions. By pausing and planning, this will help us gain better patience, improve our self-control, and prevent impulsive acts. This will definitely benefit me because when I am put into a situation where I am in an argument with somebody, I often say things that I do not mean simply out of anger and more often than not I regret them later. If only I could pause and plan before I impulsively spoke, I would not suffer from these regrets once the argument is over, and it could spare somebody’s hurt feelings in the long run.
Another strong focal point in this book is how our body uses willpower instinctively. For example, set a warm chocolate brownie in front of us with chocolate ice cream on top drizzed with chocolate syrup and we will almost immediately start to crave this delicious brownie. Our mouths might start to water and we can almost taste it just from staring at it. Once we have reached this point, every cell in our body is sending signals telling us that we need to eat this brownie. Our brain releases dopamine when we see something we want, and we may start to crave this desired object. We must then make the decision if we are going to forfeit to these cravings or resist the urges and strengthen our willpower.
            Another topic in this book that I could relate to was the focus that being good gives us the permission to be bad. I have never heard it phrased in those words before but I loved it because it is so true! During school, I work my ass off and strive for the best grades to my ability. I always put work before play because I know when to be serious and know when to buckle down and get something done. I never half ass something for school because I know how important it is. So at the end of the semester once I have received my grades, I will then go out and blow off some steam and enjoy myself because I deserve to! I did well and put school first therefore I’m allowed to go out and have fun afterwards. That is always how I looked at things and once McGonical mentioned this topic I enjoyed it because it was so relatable to me.

            All in all, The Willpower Instinct was a terrific book and I am very happy I read it. It was an easy read while also being very relatable and thought provoking. Lately I have been wanting to lose about five pounds but I work at a restaurant and constantly being around food all day long is not easy for me because I am always snacking! However, after reading this book it gave me some good advice and sent me some hope as how to gain some self control while walking past those warm freshly cooked fries or newly baked brownies. From now on, I will engage in the pause and plan response and think of the long run before I act impulsively.

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