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The Science of Willpower and Change

Monday, January 25, 2016
Course topic: 


Physical health, emotional well-being, social relationships, and professional success all require the ability to regulate our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Advances in psychology, neuroscience, medicine, and mind-body research are beginning to paint a new picture of what willpower is, why it matters, and how to develop it. 

Is willpower in the mind or in the body? Is it possible to run out of willpower, and how do you build a bigger reserve? What motivates people to change? Why do we talk ourselves out of things we really want or need to do? How much control over our thoughts and feelings do we really have, and what are the healthiest ways to regulate them? This course will address those questions through lectures, readings, and discussions and will give students the opportunity to apply the ideas of the course toward making an important change or pursuing a major goal in their lives. 

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade. 

Kelly McGonigal, Senior Teacher, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Stanford

Kelly McGonigal teaches for a wide range of programs at Stanford, including the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Business. In collaboration with CCARE, she has conducted scientific research on the benefits of compassion training. She has received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford. She is the author of The Upside of Stress and The Willpower Instinct. McGonigal received a PhD in psychology from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct (ISBN 978-1583334386)