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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It

Kelly McGonigal · 3 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It" by Kelly McGonigal.
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Amazon Summary
Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course "The Science of Willpower," The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity. Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, The Willpower Instinct explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters. For example, readers will learn: Willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Willpower is not an unlimited resource. Too much self-control can actually be bad for your health. Temptation and stress hijack the brain's systems of self-control, but the brain can be trained for greater willpower Guilt and shame over your setbacks lead to giving in again, but self-forgiveness and self-compassion boost self-control. Giving up control is sometimes the only way to gain self-control. Willpower failures are contagious--you can catch the desire to overspend or overeat from your friends­­--but you can also catch self-control from the right role models. In the groundbreaking tradition of Getting Things Done, The Willpower Instinct combines life-changing prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help readers with goals ranging from losing weight to more patient parenting, less procrastination, better health, and greater productivity at work.
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I would suggest the book "The Willpower Instinct" by Kelly Mcgonigal:

You can also look a great talk she did at Google:

In brief: sleep, exercice, healthy food and meditation will boost your willpower.

Edit: fixed Youtube link.

Thanks for the links. And the summary as well. :)
After reading the post I right away thought about the book "The Willpower Instinct", great book and highly recommended!
Understanding ego depletion and willpower are incredibly important skills for any knowledge worker. A book like will help a programmer perform better work than a book on compilers.
That book and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle[1] have both left a tremendous impact on me. I think partly because both eschew the mumbo-jumbo, hand wavy, pseudo-science approach, they're both easy to read for the layman and most importantly include lots of high-level summary and explanation about the research that supports the books.


I agree, that's a good book.
I read the book a few months ago and thought it was excellent. If anyone is interested, I took extensive notes (warning, they kind of spoil reading the book, which I think is very much worth reading):
>The best way to reduce stress is to stop screwing up and setting up your life to increase your chances of success. Successful people don’t use willpower as a last-ditch defense, they use it to set up good habits and avoid problem situations.

To idiomize this great point: Willpower is a hammer, not a shield.

That's a very good analogy.
good set of notes, thanks.
Useful notes, thanks.
> Zeigarnik effect: uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind. Once the task is completed and the goal is reached, however, this stream of reminders comes to a stop. For example, if you listen to a song, your mind moves on; if you listen to a song that’s abruptly cut off in the middle, your mind will continue inserting bits and pieces of the song into your stream of thoughts, reminding you that you’re not “done” listening.

Interesting, I wonder if this is the same as when you have a song stuck (looping) in your head. I've been told that listening to the whole song will make it unstuck.

Did not know that it was named after someone. A very familiar effect that most have probably encountered in one way or another.
My observations confirm both of these assertions. Leaving a song (I was semi-actively listening to) unfinished will make it stuck in my head, finishing it will remove it.
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