The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, written by Dr. Kelly McGonigal, teaches the readers different strategies to gain self-control when introduced to weak situations. As you continue reading, the author creates multiple experiments for the reader to attempt in order to exercise and strengthen their own willpower. All in all, after reading this book, it will assist each reader to protect ourselves from ourselves.
Chapter one introduces the most important aspect to follow throughout the remainder of the book. It describes the classic test of willpower which is resisting temptations no matter how enticing. This chapter touches upon the “I will,” “I won’t,” and “I want” powers as well as defining what willpower is and why it matters. The “I will” power describes the ability to be productive, even if you don’t want to. It helps procrastinators change their mindset to prioritize their work, even if they feel distracted and prefer to put it off to tomorrow, essentially never getting to it. The “I won’t” power expresses the ability to say no to extreme temptations, whether it be “the temptress is a doughnut, a cigarette, a clearance sale, or a one-night stand.” The “I want” power is a way to exert self-control and find things that motivate you when it matters. This chapter continues to explain what parts of the brain each power corresponds with. The prefrontal cortex is the main part of the brain making the decisions as well as attempting to exercise willpower. Throughout the chapter, there are multiple challenges Dr. McGonigal creates to help the readers strengthen their willpower. One experiment she challenges us with is “tracking your willpower choices.” It begins by developing more self-awareness and preparing for the chosen activity to become more motivated. In the end, if the reader faces these challenges head-on, then it will help us become a better version of ourselves.
Chapter three is extremely important when explaining how tiredness can contribute to succumbing to temptations. It describes how self-control is related to a muscle and once someone is tired, they normally end up losing their control. If people overuse their willpower then eventually it will burn out leaving very little left at the end of the day. Essentially if you try to control or change too many things at once, you will exhaust yourself completely. An interesting experiment in this chapter is called “The Willpower Diet.” Basically, it explains a plan to make sure that your body is well-fueled with food that gives you long-lasting energy. This relates back to the previous two chapters by being self-aware and choosing the healthier option. Overall, this will decrease the inevitable, and regular exercise will essentially make it stronger.
To conclude, this book has taught me many new ways to increase my very little self-control. I loved how this book gave multiple examples that relate to multiple people in their every day lives. I would recommend this book to not only psychology students but many other people because it is extremely important to know how to exercise your willpower, as well as learn about different strategies to resist the temptations. This is one of the best books I have read and I am interested to read more of Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s books.
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