Willpower is a weighty word. If we had more, if we could simply exercise it a bit better, our lives would be different. The lack of it is a character flaw. Or so we've been told to be believe. What if willpower wasn't exactly what we thought it was? What if willpower was so much more than just saying yes or no? That's what Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D reveals in her new book, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It.
Before I read McGonigal's book, I have to confess that I hadn't thought much about willpower. While I certainly can be a strong-willed person, I don't consider myself someone who has a great amount of willpower. After all, if I more willpower I'd exercise more, get up when my alarm goes off, and never procrastinate at anything. Oh, and I'd totally say "no" to that second glass of wine more often. After reading The Willpower Instinct, I realize there's a lot more involved than just simply saying "no" to something. There are all kinds of things going on in our brains that can both help us or hinder us.
The Willpower Instinct is not a book you want to read quickly. The original inspiration for the book was the "The Science of Willpower" course McGonigal taught in Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program. Much like the course, the information in the book is designed to be studied and works best over time. McGonigal suggests that you read the book and incorporate the exercises in each chapter over several weeks. You need time to reflect and test out some of her suggestions in the book. This book offers a lot of long-term rewards, but they are not instantaneous. You will need time to work and reflect and put your own reactions through a few simple tests.
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As you read and work your way through the book, McGonigal suggests choosing a single willpower challenge to help you test the theories in this book. So that's what we're doing. We'll be spending the next month discussing our own willpower challenges and employing some of the methods and exercises from McGonigal's book in BlogHer Book Club. Join the conversation!
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