“The Willpower Instinct” – Book Report
"The Willpower Instinct" was written by Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist at Stanford University, with the goal to explain and create a better understanding of self-control and how it can improve our health, happiness, and productivity. McGonigal describes the definition and meaning of "willpower" and why it is essential to today's society. (McGonigal, 2013).
The book describes willpower as being a "mind-body response" and not a "virtue." This means that willpower can be improved through things such as awareness, observation, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. An essential aspect of the book is when McGonigal describes that giving up control is sometimes the only way to gain self-control. (McGonigal, 2013).
This book can relate to the class lectures and the personal blogs towards self-control and willpower. For example, in my blog I discussed the topic of willpower. I explained that Roy Baumeister, who is a psychologist and researcher, believes that self-control is what leads to willpower. He states the people should have a clear goal in mind, people are more likely to achieve their goals if that person tracks their actions towards a specific goal, and that people need to control their behaviors to achieve any goal. (Cherry, 2019).
My favorite part in the book is when McGonigal states “You need to recognize when you’re making a choice that requires willpower; otherwise, the brain always defaults to what is easiest.” (McGonigal, 2013). This quote affected me personally when I read it. It took me back to a time in my life where I needed the “willpower” to keep going. At the age of twelve years old, I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. This is rare spine disease involving my S1 and L5 vertebras to fall into my pelvis ever since in was born. I had a thirteen hour surgery, two rods, a metal plate, sixteen screws, and artificial bone that will be in my spine for the rest of my life. I needed to find the willpower in myself to go forth with the surgery and be able to deal with the intensive recovery process. At twelve years old I had to teach myself how to walk again. I went from walking around everywhere to knowing I can walk but not psychically being able to. That was extremely hard for me to overcome that part in the recovery. However, I was determined enough to teach myself how to walk with three days. That is the definition of that quote. If you do not choose the willpower to overcome your fears and struggles, you will not accomplish things in life that you want to. In other words, “the easy way out.”
McGonigal, K. (2013). The willpower instinct: How self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. New York: Avery.
Cherry, K. (2019, March 11). How to Improve Your Self-Control. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/psychology-of-self-control-4177125