UpsideStressCoverThe Upside of Stress

The author of The Willpower Instinct delivers a controversial and groundbreaking new book that overturns long-held beliefs about stress.

More than forty-four percent of Americans admit to losing sleep over stress. And while most of us do everything we can to reduce it, Stanford psychologist and bestselling author Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., delivers a startling message: Stress isn’t bad. In The Upside of Stress, McGonigal highlights new research indicating that stress can, in fact, make us stronger, smarter, and happier—if we learn how to embrace it.

The Upside of Stress is the first book to bring together cutting-edge discoveries on the correlation between resilience—the human capacity for stress-related growth—and mindset, the power of beliefs to shape reality. As she did in The Willpower Instinct, McGonigal combines science, stories, and exercises into an engaging and practical book that is both entertaining and life-changing.

Pre-order the book (release date: May 5 2014):


The Willpower Instinct

“**** out of four.” – USA Today Book Review

“A fun and readable survey of the field, bringing willpower wisdom out of the labs.” – TIME magazine

“The Willpower Instinct is a new kind of self-help book. Using science to explain the why and strategies for the how, McGonigal has created a must-read for anyone who wants to change how they live in both small and big ways.” – Book Page

Buy the Book:


 The Neuroscience of Change (6-CD set or downloadable audio)

On The Neuroscience of Change, psychologist and award-winning Stanford lecturer Kelly McGonigal presents six sessions of breakthrough ideas, guided practices, and real-world exercises for making self-awareness and kindness the basis for meaningful transformation.

Buy the CD set or download the audio: (CE credits available when purchased through Sounds True)




Yoga for Pain Relief

In Yoga for Pain Relief, Stanford psychology instructor and prominent yoga teacher Kelly McGonigal shows readers how the wisdom of yoga and the latest skills drawn from mind-body research can end the physical and emotional suffering of chronic pain.

Yoga for Pain Relief is hands-down the best guidebook written on the topic of yoga and chronic pain. It is practical, compassionate, science-based and easy to understand.” – Canadian Pain Society

Buy the Book:



Leave a Comment

  1. Hi, I attended your “Befriend Your Body” seminar at the Vancouver Yoga show and it was the most moving seminar of the weekend for me. The lessons that you taught will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was hoping that there might be a book or MP3 or something that you had produced with the same content. Is there something? Thank you so much for the seminar!

  2. Hi, thank you for the great material at this site. I was wondering what the difference is between the two books “The Willpower Instinct” and “Maximum Willpower”?
    Also, which book would you recommend for someone working with anxiety and depression?
    Kind Regards from Gothenburg, Sweden

    • They are the same book — Maximum Willpower is what the UK publisher decided to call it. I don’t know if they edited the book much, or if it is exactly the same. So whichever cover appeals to you, I guess! 🙂 Chapters 6 and 9 are especially relevant for anxiety and depression. I hope that the ideas in the book will provide you with some tools and support.

      • Hi Kelly, I have just orderd The Willpower Instinct from at £14.45 only to find I could have bought the same book for £6.23 but it has a different cover and title (Maximum Will Power)…I had looked for a paper back version of The Willpower Instinct but there isn’t one…wahts going on here? John McD

      • Maximum Willpower is the UK version — it’s a foreign edition, and they get to decide the format to release it in. I don’t know if it’s been edited at all, as I don’t get to see the final versions of foreign editions, but it is probably almost identical. I’m surprised the U.S./Canada version is also for sale in the UK and I’m sorry if you feel cheated! The US/Canada paperback won’t be out until 2013.


      • Hiya Kelly
        Thank you for taking the time to reply to my query re 2 versions and prices. I was a bit peeved but your courtesy makes up for it. I have also ordered your yoga book. I am patiently working my way through your vids on youtube and I respond very positively to your views on mindful breath based movement. Thank you for sharing your insights. I have struggled with depression for 12 years and have only recently come to the conclusion that willpower is a key component of recovery, initially caught this one in book by Rich Davidson Emotional brain…I am very encouraged by all the new science that is proving the particular benefits of yoga meditation mindfulness etc Looking forward to your books arriving
        Good wishes John McD

  3. I am not usually touched by a book, especially a “self help” title. It usually feels to me like they all say the same thing, just shuffled around to sound like something new. I definitely did NOT feel that way about The Willpower Instinct. I don’t want to assume that your book will change my life yet but it sure feels like it will. Thank you.

  4. Just finished the “Willpower Instinct” at 40,000 feet on a flight back home. This book is inrcredible and I must have told 10 people about it even before I finished it. As is my reading practice, I will now go back and re-read it in ten weeks and formally apply principles… about all I can say…my hardest part will be NOT trying it on ALL areas I feel I can use ONE TIME….Thanks for a great book and I look forward to maybe jumping ont eh blog and seeing what others say….Thanks again!

  5. Hi Kelly. I am a chronic pain patient as well as a yoga teacher and I must say I LOVE Yoga for Pain Relief. I recommend it to all of my students who are in chronic pain as well as other teachers. It has been immensely helpful for me and I refer back to it time and time again. I’ve even shared a copy with the psychologist at the pain center and he has been recommending it to the other patients! Thank you! I look forward to reading your other books as well.

  6. Hi Kelly. I love your ‘Yoga for Pain Relief’ book and had an opportunity to take one of your drop-in classes. I’m no longer local and, as I struggle to find a yoga class that doesn’t trigger increased pain, I so/so/SO wish that you would make a yoga DVD! Any chance of that happening? 🙂

    • I would LOVE to see the exercises from Yoga for Pain relief in video dl or DVD! Not just the poses, but even the breathing ones. If you used a picture, a video would surely help! I went looking for that before I even got the book in case they were separate… and maybe they are. If I can’t find them but they do exist, please let me know!

      • Hi Amy, Check out the yoga videos on my website (they’re all shown on my homepage) — most are based on the book, although one (the flow yoga) is more active than what I describe in the book. Hope you enjoy! Best,

  7. Kelly,

    I am a graduate student preparing my thesis on Self-Control and was curious if you list your references in “The Willpower Instinct”? If so I am hoping that your book will give some strong leads ans places to jump off from.



  8. Dear Kelly,
    I am livng in Armenia and kindle version of books is more prefferable than paper versions.
    i have already finished the willpower instinct and now would like to start the neuroscience of change , can you please advise if it will be available in kindle format?
    Thank you

    • Unfortunately it won’t be on Kindle any time soon because it is not a written book. The audio book is made up of 6 unscripted (but edited) live lectures. They might be transcribed at some point but I can’t see for sure. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Willpower Instinct! Best,

  9. Hi Kelly
    I am 33 starting my studies again although I was not a very good student earlier in my life. I have just read your book Willpower Instinct & I enjoyed it I thought your book gave answers to many of my problems. Could you suggest me any of your book which will help me in becoming good student. I want to pursue Chartered Accountacy course which is one of the toughest courses available to Indian commerce students. Thanks

  10. Hellox
    I have been interested in the idea of being able to change my life through goals for a few years now, and I have bought quite a few Brian Tracy books etc. I have just discovered maximum willpower….wow what a book! I believe this book is the missing link that I need in my library , so important is this book it really is exciting to have found it…thankyou x

  11. Hi, Kelly,
    I’ve read your latest book “The Willpower Instinct” in Chinese language which I’ve recently found in bookstores of my country. The book helps me a lot knowing my bad habbits and by following your advices in the book I’ve nearly quit being late for work in the morning, and the most important, drinking too much beer. Haha.
    I just want to say thank you for changing me a lot in my daily life. I’ve introduced the book to my closed friends who had self-control problems as well.
    By the way, you are a beautiful and charming female writer, as I finally see you from youtube by searching your name.
    Thanks. ^3^

  12. Hello, Kelly
    I have read a book “The Willpower Instinct”
    This book has given a lot of help to me.
    I love this book.
    Thank you for your writing.

  13. Kelly, just finished your book “The Willpower Instinct” and loved it. I usually don’t read books outside my normal scope of study (theology) but someone recommended your book and I’m glad they did. Your book has me viewing things very different these days. Today I was at Wendy’s restaurant getting a drink and the young lady behind the counter was asking customers if they wanted to donate a dollar to the adoption fund that Dave Thomas started. I am now wondering what the psychology is behind asking hungry people if they want to donate to an adoption fund and if this is manipulative. I also noticed that Blake Shelton’s recent TV event to help the hurricane victims in Oklahoma asked viewers to call or go online and donate 10 dollars. Why just 10 dollars? I have noticed that more and more charities are using this 10 dollar amount to get people to the phones. Two questions. On more than one occasion in your book you mentioned that religious meetings are good for people but didn’t really elaborate. Would love to hear why you think a community of faith is good for people. I have my thoughts as one who has been in a community of faith all my life but would like to hear from you. Second, on occasion in the book you mentioned different men and/or women as examples for topics of discussion. Do you believe that there are any differences in how the different genders process information and make decisions? Would love to have your thoughts on that topic.

  14. Hello Dr. Kelly, I’ve heard about your work and books, and am researching to see which book to get as I’ve seen different versions out there. I’m familiar with your sister’s work as well and have enjoyed “Reality is Broken”. I’ve been involved some in exergaming and have helped develop an app to encourage people to walk called Mobile Adventure Walk.

    I’ve been in the “clinical trenches” as a preventive care specialist for the last 20 years, helping to motivate and empower our patients to make healthy lifestyle behavior changes. Willpower is very elusive so I’m looking forward to reading one of your books.

    I am now leaving the clinical trenches and moving to the hallowed halls of academia at Loma Linda Univ. School of Public Health in 2014, to help train the next gen of preventive care specialists and health educators. That’s another reason I am interested in your work and books.

    Is the yellow Willpower Instinct still your main book that I should get, or are you coming out with a newer version with updated info?

    Thanks for your time!

  15. Hi,

    I purchased The Willpower Instinct via audible and was wondering if you have a workbook that goes along with the book? Thanks

    • I don’t, I’m sorry. The print and ebook have all of the exercises and chapter summaries laid out, so the best option is to pick up one of those. The less expensive paperback is out in Jan 2014. I apologize for this downside of the audiobook!

  16. Hi Mrs. McGonigal!

    Friend sent me your TED talk about stress. Nice new perspective for my self and my close friends (and wider :-). I shared to all my social media channels.

    I have one question: does it count if you have pets? Cat, dog… How this influence on that stress hormone (oxytocin)?

    Thank you and good luck!


    PS: who is pushing this propaganda that stress is harmful? Pharmaceutical industry?

  17. Kelly, I’m attempting to find some of the research you cited in your Ted Talk. Can you give me author and publication info so I can track them down. I’m most interested in finding the studies on stress level, belief about stress, and mortality, and the research about stress and volunteering/helping others.

  18. Hi Kelly,

    The willpower instinct really helped me to know about lots of things, Especially the section where how our psychology gets high jacked by media and many other things in the world has been explained and how it works. This has helped me to be free which we truly deserve and to be more peaceful and productive. My reservoir of willpower helped me to get rid of destructive habits…which I have realised that willpower is greater than money…..Truly life changing and inspiring..!! Thanks..!!!

  19. How about a Willpower book club guide? Not because it needs it (it’s already a guide!), but as a kind of permission for people to work together with your material. An idea franchise.

    • Bruce, I love the idea of people using the book together to support one another. I’ve head of a number of groups doing this, and am always happy to send them a personal message if I hear about it! Working on my next book now, but maybe when it’s done I can create a guide for willpower groups, just in time for 2015 resolutions. 🙂 Best,

  20. Dear Kelly,
    Greetings from the Netherlands. Saw you Ted Talk recently and it is was such a relief to hear about the positive side of stress. I keep it in mind now whenever I do feel some stress. That is the ‘personal’ side and moreover I’d be very curious to know if a book can be expected about that topic from you. That is my professional side working at a publishing house for the book list on psychology. I do hope so and look forward to learn about it.
    All best, Jeske

    • Hi Jeske,
      Yes, I’m finishing the book on this topic now, and my U.S. publisher (Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House) has been selling foreign rights. I’m not sure if they have sold in your territory yet, but their foreign rights department can let you know! 🙂

      • Hi Kelly,
        The good news: your new book will indeed be published in Dutch as well.
        The not so good news for me: rights are with publisher who did your previous book. Fair enough, but I would have loved to do it, haha.
        All best and be looking out for it.

  21. Hi Kelly, recently saw your ted talk about How to make the stress our friend, and it was awesome, I like your pronunciation and your way you share your knowledge with us, I’m from Guatemala city, we speak spanish, but try to talk english :), Thanks a lot for everything you teach me in this talk, send you a hug from this latin and beauty country.

  22. Hello Kelly,

    I’m a 25-year-old girl from Denmark, and I’m so fascinated by your work.
    I’ve already read your new book The upside of stress and now I’m reading the willpower instinct.
    I find it amazing the way you can make such themes incredibly interesting.

    I myself have suffered from chronic stress, but thanks to your new book that’s almost 100 percentage over with.

    I still am really interested in the science of stress and I was wondering whether it is possible to take your class The new science of stress online? Unfortunately I live in Denmark, so taking your class in the United States is not an option.

    From a big fan of yours

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