Below is one of the first talks I did to promote the book, back in January 2012. It’s still one of my favorites, thanks to the fun crowd.
Author and Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, shares her favorite studies and strategies from her new book “The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It,” followed by a lively Q&A. Topics addressed include dieting, health, addiction, quitting smoking, procrastination, motivation, teaching/education, mindfulness, sleep, cravings, exercise, goal-setting, habits, self-compassion, guilt, and shame. Book talk at Capitola Book Cafe in Capitola, CA, January 11, 2012. Sadly, the baked goods and chocolate were available only to attendees at the live event!
One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on with SuperBetter Labs and my twin sister, superstar game designer Jane McGonigal, launched in May 2012: Oprah’s Thank You Game. The Oprah Winfrey Network and Oprah.com partnered with SuperBetter Labs to create a game that spread the benefits of gratitude to millions of people across the globe. Although the 30-day game is over, you can still learn the secrets of “giving good thanks” in this 3-min video that shares the science of how gratitude can improve your own well-being — and change the world.
San Francisco Public Radio did a lovely 1-hr show on the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The piece features the founder of CCARE, the scientists who are studying compassion, as well as one of my compassion cultivation courses, and stories from students in it.
Deborah Defilippo heard about CCARE when she attended the 2010 discussion between scientists and the Dalai Lama. Researchers talked about the health benefits of meditation.
“I am, I guess you could say I’m a type A, high achieving person,” DeFilippo says. “And I’m now catching myself when someone in front of me is driving below the speed limit, saying the phrases that are in almost every single meditation practice that Kelly has. And that is, you say for each individual and yourself and the world, ‘May you be happy. May you be free from pain and suffering. And may you experience joy and peace.’ …It’s like taking a deep breath and a lot of calm does instill within me.”
Stanford’s CCARE program has its critics. Some worry this type of secular practice will lose something, and perhaps lack substance. Others say the aspirations of CCARE – to make a more compassionate world — are too idealistic. They question how much students can learn in nine weeks.
But McGonigal says many students do connect what’s taught by CCARE with what’s occurring in their lives.
“One of my favorite stories was a man who was in a church setting and a homeless woman had approached this group that was meeting at the church…. And he could feel in himself that little bit of threat or stress arising that would normally have led him to maybe get rid of that person as quickly as possible so that she didn’t disturb the group that was meeting.”
The man remembered a lesson from the previous week in class.
“He considered the other ways of thinking about her,” McGonigal said. “That, just like him, she was human. She was suffering. Going down the checklist, does this person need help? Do I have the resources to help? And turns out that she had diabetes and she needed food and there wasn’t food available in that moment and the people in the group were able to get her something to eat and the whole thing ended very differently because he was using this framework from the study that we talked about … People can take something from a study and use it in everyday life.”
I’m excited to announce the release of my latest audiobook, which presents six live lectures and twelve guided self-reflection and mediation practices. The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Guide to Personal Transformation (Sounds True) integrates the most exciting scientific findings about how the mind works with the wisdom of mind-body traditions like yoga and Buddhism. It deepens some of the most important ideas from The Willpower Instinct (Avery 2012), including the importance of mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance for change. The program also provides practical support to help you explore and embody these qualities through breathing, meditation, and relaxation practices.
You can order the 6-CD set OR download the program in MP3 format at Sounds True.
Personal Transformation Based on Mindfulness and Self-Compassion
What’s your most important goal? Why does it matter so deeply? How will you overcome the obstacles? Answer these questions with sincerity, proceed with mindfulness and compassion, and you have just set in motion a revolutionary method for personal change that is supported by both the latest science and traditional wisdom. 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.
Practical Methods to Retrain Your Brain to Support Your Goals
Our understanding of the incredible power of the human brain is at an all-time high, with the emerging fields of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and psychophysiology opening new possibilities for greater health, happiness, and freedom from suffering. Drawing on her training as a research scientist and longtime practitioner of meditation and yoga, Dr. McGonigal reveals these startling findings, including the clinically supported methods for training the mind away from default states that no longer serve us, and establishing behaviors and attitudes aligned with our highest values and aspirations.
The First Rule of Change: It’s Already Happening
As the world’s wisdom traditions teach and science is now verifying, our lives are in fact defined by constant change. Whether you’re looking to change a behavior, improve your health or other circumstances, or simply for a way to bring hope and resilience into your life as it is, The Neuroscience of Change will help you trust yourself and unfold your true capacities for personal transformation.
Willingness, self-awareness, and surrender—how to nourish the seeds of change
Focusing on the process, not the outcome
How to overcome the “trigger-to-instinct” reaction
The proven benefits of meditation—and how to start practicing yourself
How to transform self-criticism into self-compassion
Why your mind creates habits-and how to consciously create new ones
Making values-driven commitments
Visualization and the principle of “encoding prospective memories”
The power of the vow
“Deep activation” and the danger of rejecting what is
Working with inner experiences as the key to making outward change
Six hours of breakthrough science, practical wisdom, guided exercises, and mindfulness meditations for making positive change that lasts
In this 1-hour webisode of the tv show “Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour“, Dr. Kirsten Sanford and Dr. Kelly McGonigal discuss the science of self-control, why and how to become a “willpower scientist” in your own life, and what the latest research says about parenting strategies, behavior change, and motivation.
I love spreading the word (and the love) about my favorite non-profit organizations. So prepare to fall in love with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
One of my favorite ways to donate to Best Friends is to sponsor one of their special-needs animals that cannot be adopted out, such as Echo, a red-tailed hawk with one wing, or Buddy, a former “stunt cat” who was rescued from Hollywood with a broken hip, a broken jaw, a broken tail, and a detached retina.
MORE ABOUT BEST FRIENDS:
At the Sanctuary
The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at Angel Canyon, at the heart of the Golden Circle of national parks in southern Utah, is home on any given day to about 2,000 dogs, cats, and other animals, who come from shelters and rescue groups around the country for special care they can only receive at Best Friends.
Most of the animals who find their way to Best Friends have special physical or behavioral needs, and our expert staff of veterinarians, trainers and caregivers offer them all the help they require. Most of them are ready to go to good new homes after just a few weeks of special care. A few, who are too old or too sick, or who have suffered extra trauma, find a home and haven at the sanctuary, and are given loving care for the rest of their lives.
Around the Country
Best Friends works with our members — and with humane groups, individuals and entire communities — to set up spay/neuter, shelter, foster and adoption programs in neighborhoods, cities, and states throughout the country. Through this work, Best Friends is helping to save and rehabilitate tens of thousands of animals each year.
Through the online Best Friends Network, the society reaches across the nation and around the world, helping local communities to rescue animals in distress and to create their own No More Homeless Pets communities.
At home and abroad, Best Friends has led some of the largest animal rescue efforts in recent history. These rescues include natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, wartime situations, and animal hoarding or failed shelter situations where hundreds of dogs and cats need urgent and continuing care for many months before they can be placed in good new homes. With its sanctuary and rescue experience, Best Friends is the only organization in the country capable of mounting such major rescue efforts.
Best Friends offers workshops, internships, training programs and conferences to help individuals, groups and communities to set up and manage their own shelter, rescue, adoption and spay/neuter programs. Best Friends magazine also has the largest readership of any general-interest animal publication in the U.S.