Book Review: The Willpower Instinct is written by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., who is psychologist and professor at Standford, that provides a course on Willpower. This course provides an in depth look at what Willpower is and why most people seem to lack it. She creates tools and techniques that are available in the book to help both the reader and her students regain the strength needed to achieve small goals they set throughout their lives. McGonigal recreated "worn- out" strategies most people use to motivate themselves to find the willpower to quit smoking, go to the gym, or to even cut down their television time. This book conceptualizes the fact that willpower is something that needs to be worked up to. Not something everyone can just have naturally. Management and goal setting are a main component in McGonigal's techniques, as well as in the other scientific research that is included in the text.
Favorite Part: I cannot pinpoint a specific part in the book, since I thoroughly enjoyed everything, from the small exercises, like learning how to meditate, to the diagrams on how dopamine satisfies the "want/need" reward system in the brain. I especially like how Kelly McGonigal portrays willpower. When I think about willpower, I instantly think about all of the goals that I did not reach in the past. Most people instantly think about their lack of willpower, and that is normal. McGonigal's whole book is about managing needs versus wants, and how to reach the small goals in life. When people take on too much at one time, they ultimately think they have no willpower. Her book has exercises that break down the barriers in the brain and will retrain it to build up willpower, so the rewards will be more satisfying in the long run.
Related: This is the perfect book to relate to this course. The slides in the lecture that is relates to is the Impulsivity and Self-Control slides. Willpower is debated as either an issue of self-control or self- management. Kelly McGonigal would argue that willpower is merely just a self-management issue, as well as conflicting outcomes, just like the slides suggest. There are many techniques such as soft commitment and bondage that are mentioned in the lecture that are also used as exercises throughout the book to help the reader tackle their goals too.
Application In My Own Life: Over the past few months, I have been trying to rebound from the weight I put on while I was at school. Sticking to a healthy and clean eating plan is especially difficult for me when working, taking three classes, interning, and vacationing. While I have found a love for the gym when I started out at as a Freshman, two years ago, I just love my food. Over the past 2 years, I have lost 30 pounds, but the scale always creeps up a little when I finish my Spring semester. This book has put into perspective all of the little things that I can do to help with my snacking obsession, especially when I do it when I do not notice. The one trick I found extremely useful was helpful for one of her students that was trying to quit smoking. She told her student to tell himself to wait 10 more minutes before he needed another cigarette, and if he really needed one after the 10 minutes was over, he would smoke, if not he would not smoke. I did the same exact thing with my snacking. I asked myself if I was really hungry and if I wanted it after the 10 minutes was up. Most of the time I just forgot about the snack. This book has a ton of tools that can be applied to any sort of habit, and I really recommend it to anyone who needs a little motivation!