Review: The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all carry with us various myths about what willpower is, our relationship with it, and how to do better with it. However, so many of our assumptions about willpower are often wrong in total or problematically applied because of a failure to understand what willpower is and its different forms. McGonigal's provides a fantastic foundation to exploring and articulating willpower by breaking it into three different forms (I will, I won't, I want). She guides readers through the science it has taken to better understand it from our historical or often racially, culturally, classist views of willpower to one that highlights just how willpower works in many different ways with cognitive, physiological, and mental tricks that humans fall prey to quite often. One of my favorite parts of McGonigal’s work is that she provides small challenges for readers to test out with each new idea she introduces. While it is inevitably something she, herself, has developed, I can’t help but think, her sister, Jane McGonigal has helped or advised in as it has a strong gamification element to it. What I appreciate most about this book is that it reminds the reader that willpower is often a moving target and that one cannot necessarily conquer it but rather just better understand where and when one is most likely to succeed or surrender to short-term desires that are at odds with long-term goals.

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