Thursday, January 10, 2013

BlogHer Book Club Book Review: The Willpower Instinct

Almost two years ago I gave up eating chocolate.  

It was Ash Wednesday 2011 and earlier that day a good friend of mine and I were walking through the train station downtown trying to determine what we were going to get for lunch.  Somehow, some way the conversation went from lunch to the fact that it was Ash Wednesday and what I was going to give up for Lent.  Now, the question was more of a joke then anything else as I am Jewish, but it got me thinking.  What would I give up for Lent if I actually did observe the tradition.  I asked a friend (who is also Jewish) of mine what they would give up if they had to give something up.  Her response: Chocolate. :P Oh, I'd love to be able to give up chocolate.  As I made my way home that evening I got hungry and ironically I had a 3 Musketeers bar on me.  I took a bite out of the bar and thought to myself how it was just "ok".  I didn't eat anymore of the bar.  Instead I spent the remainder of the ride home thinking about how chocolate was no longer enjoyable to me and if it really would be so difficult to give it up.  That's when I decided to try to go the duration of Lent without chocolate.  At first it wasn't easy.  However, as one might imagine it got easier as time went by.  Part of that ease had to do with my willpower.

Willpower is not something I think about consciously about most of the time.  Most of the time I just do things that come naturally to me, but at the end of the day there have been times when I have had to consciously think about. Though I believe I have a good handle on willpower, I wanted gain a better understanding on the topic.  This is where The Willpower Test by award winning psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. comes into play.

Based on a continuing education class "The Science of Willpower" Dr. McGonigal designed for Standford University, this book takes readers through the ins and outs of willpower.  The idea behind the book was to take readers through her ten week course which includes the reader implementing the material into their own life.  Yes, readers of this book are encouraged to pick something they believe could be helped by willpower as a basis for the exercises in this book.  I think a person gets the most out of this book if they do the exercises.

I like the way the sections of this book are titled.  They were light and catchy.  For example, "From Saints to Sinners".  They were definitely made me want to dig into the information.  In regards to the information, it was understandable and interesting.  I didn't feel like I needed to have a Ph.D. to understand what was being said nor did I feel it was drab and painful to get through as some books with similar formats might be.  

Overall, this book gave interesting insight on the topic of willpower and has an interesting approach too.

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

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