Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. As a pioneer in the field of "science-help," her mission is to translate insights from psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies that support personal well-being and strengthen communities.

She is the author of several books, including the international bestseller “The Willpower Instinct” and her latest book “The Upside of Stress.” Her 2013 TED talk, "How to Make Stress Your Friend," is one of the Most Viewed TED talks of all time, with over 19 million views.

Through the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism, she co-authored the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training and studies how social connection can promote health, happiness, and resilience.

Dr. McGonigal has consulted for a wide range of non-profit organizations and industries to bring evidence-based strategies for well-being into the workplace, healthcare, education, technology, and community outreach.

She also currently serves as the psychology consultant to The New York Times' Education Initiatives, helping educators around the world interpret the news and opinions of the day from the lens of psychological science.

In her free time, she is a passionate advocate for animal rescue and volunteers as an adoption counselor for Best Friends Animal Society.



To learn more about some of my favorite non-profit organizations and community programs (including those featured in my latest book "The Upside of Stress"), visit this page, where you can watch videos of the programs in action, be inspired by the good they do in the world, and learn how to get involved. I also love hearing from individuals and organizations with similar missions, whose work I don't yet know about. If that's you, please get in touch through social media or email!

ABOUT: compassion

Since 2009, I've worked with the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education to develop and scientifically study programs that train compassion, empathy, and self-compassion, as well as to train professionals in leading such programs worldwide. Below are some key resources related to this work.

A Fearless Heart. This 2015 book by Thupten Jinpa introduces the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program, including perspectives on the science, philosophy, and practices that inform CCT.

Scientific Articles on CCT

A wandering mind is a less caring mind: Daily experience sampling during compassion meditation training. Jazaieri, Hooria, Ihno A. Lee, Kelly McGonigal, Thupten Jinpa, James R. Doty, James J. Gross, and Philippe R. Goldin. The Journal of Positive Psychology (2015).

A randomized controlled trial of compassion cultivation training: Effects on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulation. Jazaieri, Hooria, Kelly McGonigal, Thupten Jinpa, James R. Doty, James J. Gross, and Philippe R. Goldin. Motivation and Emotion (2014).

Enhancing compassion: A randomized controlled trial of a compassion cultivation training program. Jazaieri, Hooria, Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Kelly McGonigal, Erika L. Rosenberg, Joel Finkelstein, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Margaret Cullen, James R. Doty, James J. Gross, and Philippe R. Goldin. Journal of Happiness Studies (2013).

Pilot study of a compassion meditation intervention in chronic pain. Chapin, Heather L., Beth D. Darnall, Emma M. Seppala, James R. Doty, Jennifer M. Hah, and Sean C. Mackey. Journal of Compassionate Health Care (2014).

The Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training Program

Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is a 9-week educational program designed to help you strengthen compassion for yourself and others. CCT combines traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research to help participants cultivate resilience and meaning while leading a more compassionate life. Through instruction, in-class interaction, and daily meditation, you can develop the qualities of self-awareness, kindness, empathy, and courage, to support the ability to respond mindfully to your own and others' suffering. Visit the Stanford CCARE CCT information page to find certified CCT courses and teachers worldwide or learn more about the program.

CCARE Public Events

The Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education hosts a wide range of public talks and conferences. Many of these events have been recorded and are available to view, for free, on the CCARE website. Check out the CCARE Events page for more information about upcoming events, and the CCARE Videos Archive to view past events.

ABOUT: The Personal Stuff

Want to know more about me and what I care about? Follow me on Twitter (@kellymcgonigal) and:

How I Work (via Lifehacker's Interview Series): "We stole a few minutes of Kelly's very busy schedule (she did this interview via email on a plane!) to find out her best time-saving tricks, favorite playlists, and most inspiring advice."

Who I Am: Yup, I got married in jeans and sneakers at an animal sanctuary in Utah, and we spent our honeymoon volunteering with the special-needs animals and getting covered in the red dust of beautiful Angel Canyon.