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3 Remarkable Lessons I Learnt From The Willpower Instinct

My aim is to read at least one book a month as a goal. The month of February was Dr Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct. I hope you enjoy the 3 remarkable lessons I learnt from The Willpower Instinct.

The Willpower Instinct Summary

The Willpower Instinct is a book that was recommended to me by Matt Dajer of Yes Theory. Kelly McGonigal who is an award-winning psychology instructor at Stanford University.

She expertly explains what willpower is from a scientific point of view as well as having clear strategies for the reader to improve their self-control, better their habits and overall have more control over their mind to make improved choices. It’s broken down into 10 chapters with every chapter offering insight into human behaviour and why we do the things we do.

With so many distractions and temptations pulling us towards procrastination and an unhealthy lifestyle. The Willpower Instinct allows you to take back control of your life rather than being controlled by external forces.

3 Remarkable Lessons I Learnt From The Willpower Instinct

3 remarkable lessons I learnt from the Willpower instinct
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1. Becoming self-aware = self-control

Becoming self-aware of what you think about, how you respond to any giving situation and what daily habits you do. Have been proven to help aid you in having an increased level of self-control.

Research shows that people who practice this mindful eating exercise (An overeater slows down and really experiences the food that triggers binge eating, they realise that the food looks and smells better than it tastes) develop greater self-control around food and have fewer episodes of binge eating. Over time they lose weight but experience less stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you want to improve your own self-control and become more self-aware, the followng 2 bullet points can help.

  • Meditation where you get great at becoming more present with your self.
  • Understanding what your doing while your doing it and comprehend why your doing it

2. Train Self-Control By Thinking Of It As A Muscle

Every day we come up against temptations. It could be sugary food that stops you from developing the body you desire or you could be tempted by sales online that take you away from saving for your first home. A little temptation doesn’t seem that bad. But if left untrained this can lead to obesity, debt or cheating on your other half.

How to help you build the self-control muscle is by using her strategy she discuses in chapter 1. She describes willpower as having 3 powers, I will, I won’t and I want.

So how you could overcome getting into debt is by saying to yourself, I will put away x amount of money, I won’t do any online shopping and I want to save up for the house I’ve always wanted.

Becoming more self-aware can help strengthen the self-control muscle especially when your willpower battery is drained due to use throughout the day.

3. Forgiveness when we fail

Whenever we feel bad, have you ever noticed some of the habits you do to make yourself feel better? Is it turning to comfort food, an ex or drinking excessively?

It makes perfect sense whenever we feel down or sad we turn to short term fixes of the promise of released dopamine to make us happy. Unfortunately, this has been proven to have a double negative effect in the long term. The feeling people felt most was guilt. If this pattern isn’t stopped then addictions and new negative habits can be formed.

To gain self-control back whenever we have a setback or a feeling of sadness. The strategy we should all use is self-forgiveness.

An experiment by two psychologists invited weight-watching young women to eat doughnuts and candy. The psychologist had a theory that if guilt makes you lose self-control maybe the opposite would strengthen it. So they made half of the young women feel better about giving in by sending them a special message to make them feel better about any bad choices they make.

The result was the special message group ate only 28 grams of candy, compared with almost 70 grams by women who were not encouraged to forgive themselves.

She states that “We may think that guilt motivates us to correct our mistakes, but it’s just one more way that feeling bad leads to giving in”.

Everybody makes mistakes and has setbacks. Being kinder to ourselves will help us learn more and feel good to move forward rather than make the problem worse.

The 3 perspectives to help the mind avoid a downward spiral are,

  • What are you feeling?
  • You are only human
  • What would a friend do?

Try practising self-forgiveness today on any mistake or setback you have.

The Willpower Instinct Review

The Willpower instinct was a complete eye-opener to the science behind how our mind deals with self-control. Every chapter has amazing stories, studies and tips on how to strengthen your own self-control. I think everyone suffers from their own willpower making their life that evermore difficult than it should be.

By reading The Willpower Instinct you will finally be able to practically get to work to strengthen your self-control muscle.

Being able to forgive myself when I’ve made a mistake has helped transform my productivity. Also not saying no to things like eating chocolate as an example but let the emotion flow through to then be self-aware enough to say I would like to eat it but not today. Has helped me to be fully aware of how my impulses work.

This is a must-read by an expert you know what she’s talking about.

3 remarkable lessons I learnt from the Willpower instinct
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If you are inspired by the review of The Willpower Instinct. Head over to my page what do I read for an easy way to get the book yourself.

What Do You Think?

Did you enjoy today’s article – 3 remarkable lessons I learnt from the Willpower instinct

Well, I hope this inspires you to buy The Willpower Instinct. You will build your self-control muscle in no time.


Hi, I'm Adam
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Hi, I’m Adam

I’ve spent over 10 years coaching and mentoring people within sport and business. I have many life skills that I have developed and I want to pass these skills on so people can find their best self. I believe it all starts in the mind and I write about valuable tools and strategies to help people grow in this area.

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