When I got an offer from BlogHer to review The Willpower Instinct, I have to admit…I had some pretty mixed feelings. While it sounded interesting, a whole book on willpower could turn out to be awfully boring. Lucky for me, this one is not boring!
The author, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., bases the book on a class she teaches at Stanford University called “The Science of Willpower.” Since she’s been teaching this class for years, the book is full of awesome anecdotes and examples of what all sorts of people have done in order to overcome all sorts of willpower challenges. While the book includes some “brain-speak” that didn’t appeal to me so much (the frontal what? amyg-huh?), it is just conversational enough that I was able to enjoy getting through it.
McGonigal explains that we have three powers–I will, I won’t, and I want. Our individual willpower challenges happen when these three powers are at war with each other. One of my favorite studies cited in the book is about a group of people who were given a free gym membership and encouraged to use it–though nothing was required of them–and their whole LIVES changed! People started eating healthier, smoking less, being more productive at work…all from going to the gym once or twice a week by their own choosing!
Ultimately, willpower boils down to actually paying attention to whatever challenges you are having. This was especially interesting to read about at this time of year, while setting goals for 2013 and participating in a fast with our church. (Let me tell you, it takes some serious willpower to avoid eating a whole pizza when you’ve only eaten two light meals in four days!) I’m definitely interested in trying a couple of the ideas she suggests, especially the ones related to simply breathing differently for short periods of time (apparently, extremely deep, slow breathing can increase focus and willpower in all areas of life!).
Overall, I enjoyed The Willpower Instinct. Although it definitely got a little too brainy for my taste at some points, McGonigal made it easy to read and enjoyable throughout. For more information about the book, and to participate in some awesome discussions on it, check out the BlogHer Book Club site: https://www.blogher.com/bookclub/now-reading-willpower-instinct
*This is a compensated review for the BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions here are completely my own.*