This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are my own.
I want to stop smoking.
I want to spend less and save more.
I want to be a more loving wife/husband.
Whatever your goals are for 2013, there's a very good chance you'll need more willpower to accomplish them. But what is willpower? How do we get more of it? Can we run out of it? In The Willpower Instinct, Dr. Kelly McGonigal tackles the top questions people have about self-control, using real-life examples and extensive research to give us a glimpse at just what makes us tick.
Based on "The Science of Willpower" course she taught for Stanford, McGonigal breaks down willpower into "I will power," "I won't power," and "I want power," giving exercises to strengthen each of these and help us develop an awareness for why we behave the way we do. Every other page felt like an a-ha moment for me, of either recognizing myself on the page or seeing a tip that I know would work for me.
McGonigal provides easy steps to set yourself up for success, from getting enough sleep and exercising, to replacing the flight-or-flight response with a pause-and-plan response, or making yourself wait ten minutes before deciding whether or not to give in to a temptation. She also provides insights into what's going on in the different portions of our brains and how our physical responses can help us make good decisions or make it more difficult to resist temptation.
The idea she presented of two selves warring within us resonated with me: "Some neuroscientists go so far as to say that we have one brain but two minds--or even, two people living inside our mind. There's the version of us that acts on impulse and seeks immediate gratification, and the version of us that controls our impulses and delays gratification to protect our long-term goals." She even suggests it might be helpful to name the impulsive side of yourself and the wiser self. (I went with Honey Boo Boo and Oprah).
Whether you're one of those who has a list of 2013 resolutions tacked up on the wall or who prefers to take things as they come, I highly recommend this book. It's scientifically sound, without reading like a dry textbook, and it makes you dream big about what you could possibly achieve with a little more willpower. 2013 is our year!
Read more on BlogHer: https://www.blogher.com/bookclub/now-reading-willpower-instinct