Oh, hello, New Year reading material…


When Blogher chose The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D., as their first book club book of the year, I jumped at the chance to participate. I usually avoid books that have anything like “motivation,” “willpower,” or “self control” in the title. Mostly, I find them trite and obnoxious, containing overly simplified “how to make all the things better” type of advice. I just don’t like it. Yet, the description of the book and the fact that it was written by someone teaches at Stanford made me want to give this book a shot.

I loved this book. It appealed to my nerdy little heart in so many ways.

The author dissects willpower as a physiological process rather than just a mental process. She talks both about how it works and how to improve it.

The book is meant to be read over a period of ten weeks with a specific willpower challenge in mind. She gives assignments in each section to help explore and improve your own willpower. Having read the book for the sake of reviewing it, I had to move through it much more quickly, but I fully intend to go back and read it as the ten week course it should be.

Some of my favorite things:

1) Willpower is not unlimited. Like a muscle, there comes a point where you exhaust your ability to exercise it. Also like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

2) We pretty much have two people in our brains with conflicting ideas about self preservation.

3) We tend to mirror the people around us and their habits. Pretty much this means I get to blame my mother for all my bad habits… just kidding.

If you’re interested in an explanation of willpower that looks at evolution and neuroscience for answers without feeling like you’re reading a textbook, you should read this book. Even if you just want to know why you can’t put down the cookie, resist the boy, or get yourself to work out, I’d totally recommend this book. Grab a copy here!


This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

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