Book Review: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Unleash Your (Will) Power

Learn the science of self-control

99:9
7 min readJul 8, 2022

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Now more than ever, people realize that willpower — the ability to control their attention, emotions, and desires — influences their physical health, financial security, relationships, and professional success.
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct, Page 1

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.
— Rumi

This quote by the poet Rumi starts off The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. A book which is perhaps the greatest ever on the topic of willpower and self-control.

There comes a time when we realize the need to restrain ourselves to create the best life we can live. When we understand more fulfilling future rewards make us happier than instant gratification. These long-term rewards take consistent hard work and sacrifice to reach. But they’re worth it because they create true satisfaction and great pleasure.

To resist temptation today and reach our future goal tomorrow, we need willpower. The more willpower (self-control) we have, the better our life can be.

Good willpower improves every part of our life. A nutritious diet that avoids junk food improves our physical and mental health. Having a budget and avoiding impulse spending improves our financial stability. And so on and so forth — willpower impacts everything in our life, and we need as much of it as we can get.

Now more than ever, people realize that willpower — the ability to control their attention, emotions, and desires — influences their physical health, financial security, relationships, and professional success. […]
And yet, most people feel like willpower failures — in control one moment but overwhelmed and out of control the next.
Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct, Page 1

So what can we do to get more self-control? And the reverse of that question: Why do we fail at self-control and indulge in temptation when we know that means compromising the long-term goals we truly want?

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