Updated January 19th, 2022
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The Willpower Instinct is about understanding and managing your willpower. It’s about why our efforts to change our bodies, improve our relationships, pursue a career, manage stress, or stop smoking so often fail–and how we can succeed by learning some simple principles of the mind. While we think that achieving goals takes monumental effort and heroic strength of will, the truth is that we’re far more powerful and natural than we think.
Kelly McGonigal, PH.D., is a health psychologist at Stanford University and an instructor in medicine at the university’s renowned Graduate School of Business. She is an award-winning teacher, and her psychology course “The Science of Willpower” is one of the most popular classes on campus.
What are some of the key takeaways from reading The Willpower Instinct?
Most importantly, The Willpower Instinct explains that we all have a limited supply of willpower. While the body is designed to respond effectively and flexibly to any particular situation, when we try to change ourselves for one reason, then something else pops up and our resolve weakens. And just as the body responds better with rest than will power, we also perform better when we reserve our self-control for emergencies. The key to success is having the right strategy–the best way to exert self-control, and when it’s most important to do so.
This means that you can set up your environment in a way that makes you more likely to reach your goals, by setting things up in a way that you are least likely to have to use your willpower. It’s not about following a set of rules to make yourself into a certain kind of person, it’s about building a system that allows you to conserve your willpower for the times when it’s really needed.
Using the Willpower Instinct book to increase willpower
Listening to others stories where they harness their willpower, actually helps to strength our willpower. When I need more focus or more resolve to do things I’m procrastinating on, turning on the audio version of this book, really helps me to get moving again.
It’s a great tool I have for when I’m feeling stuck.
Something about listening to crazy feats of willpower seems to make me think if they can do that, then I’m sure I can say no to the chocolate bar.
Example, if David Blaine can fast for 44 days, then I can make it hours till lunch.
Recent studies demonstrate that willpower is like a muscle in that it gets tired as we use it but can be strengthened over time.
Experiment with your willpower and test the studies for yourself and see what really works for you.
3 Scientifically Proven Ways to Have More Willpower – The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
The Number one proven way to have more willpower is to get enough sleep. Studies have shown that when people are deprived of sleep their ability to exercise self-control diminishes significantly.
Number two proven way to boost willpower is meditation. Meditation helps willpower by reducing your stress levels, improving your mood, and boosting your ability to think clearly. Experts say that meditations both boosts willpower and reduces the need for willpower.
Number three, as mentioned above is to minimize the things that deplete your willpower. Dr. McGonigal suggests finding a way to make it easier for yourself by building an environment that supports your goals and helps you conserve willpower.
For example, if you’re trying to drink more water, then putting some somewhere where you’ll see them often is helpful.
Bonus willpower tips
Focus on eating a diet of nutritious food. Eating protein and fiber at every meal has been shown in studies to increase willpower levels. You can also eat fruit for energy without crashing; things like blueberries may be more powerful than traditional sugary snacks because they contain fiber.
Standing, rather than sitting while you work or study.
The Willpower Instinct PDF Download
Download: The Willpower Instinct PDF version
Studies have shown that when people are standing they tend to get more done than if they were just sitting there. So next time you’re feeling tired and are lacking willpower switch to a standing position!
Hopefully, you found this blog post to be helpful and informative. If so, we’d love it if you could share the article with your friends on Facebook or Twitter! Remember that willpower is a muscle; just like any other muscle in our body, it can get worn out from overuse.
So make sure to take time for yourself each day – whether it’s taking a walk outside or sitting down for some quiet reading- before tackling another thing on your list. And don’t forget about the audiobook of The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal–it’s an excellent companion book because just listening to it actually strengthen willpower! Get them both today and start living more intentionally tomorrow 🙂