The Power of Habit

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

Number of pages: 400

Publisher: Random House

BBB Library: Psychology and Strengths, Personal Success

ISBN: 9781400069286

About the Author

He is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He contributed to “Golden Opportunities”, a series of articles that examined how companies are trying to take advantage of aging Americans.


Editorial Review

When you woke up this morning, what did you do first? Did you hop in the shower, check your email, or brush your teeth? Which route did you drive to work? When you got to your desk, did you chat with a colleague or jump into a memo? Salad or hamburger for lunch? “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,” Williams James wrote in 1892. Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they are not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness. In the past decade, our understanding of the neurology and psychology of habits and the way patterns work within our lives, societies and organizations has expanded in ways we couldn’t have imagined fifty years ago. We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We understand how to make people eat less, exercise more, work more efficiently, and live healthier lives. Transforming habits isn’t necessarily easy or quick, it’s not always simple, but it’s possible.

Book Reviews

"Duhigg has read hundreds of scientific papers and interviewed many of the scientists who wrote them, and relays interesting findings on habit formation and change from the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and neuroscience. This is not a self-help book conveying one author’s homespun remedies, but a serious look at the science of habit formation and change." - The New York Times

" His enthusiasm for corporate ingenuity seems to blind him at times to the sinister aspects of habit manipulation. He even admits to being taken in. “It was really helpful that Target was sending me exactly the right coupons for what I needed to buy,” he notes. But reading the quirky anecdotes and the whizbang science of it all becomes habit-forming in itself." - Bloomberg

"The book covers a wide spectrum from explaining how habits are formed and how the bad ones can be broken, to how information on habits can be used in marketing, management, and social movements. You'll also learn why the Rosa Parks incident ignited the civil rights movement as well as how Target predicts, with amazing accuracy, the trimesters of their women shoppers." - CBS News

" The “habit loop” consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward. It’s that deceptively simple. Your alarm goes off in the morning (cue), you shower, eat breakfast, and brush your teeth (routine), and you get out the door on time and without forgetting anything (reward)." - The Scholarly Kitchen

"Is it worth reading? Well. I can tell you this: The Power of Habit just hit The ONE Thing on the chin with a spinning back fist, knocking it outta the top spot for my number one book recommendation." - The Word Press Millionaire

"Duhigg sometimes oversimplifies his explanations and some examples, such as the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, seem to strain credibility a bit. But by and large, the anecdotes are entertaining and the book just may give you a few ideas about how to change some ideas of your own." - The Los Angeles Times

"Duhigg drills down life to this. We are all habitual people and our lives are run by a series of mini routines which are triggered by a cue and end with a reward. Identify the trigger and you can detour to a different, more positive routine. The idea (and Duhigg backs this up by referncing scienctific studies of mice) is that old routines can never be obliterated but you can write over those negative routines by instituting a positive routine instead." - Dear Author

"'This gets to how habits work,' Duhigg says.'The reason why these cues and rewards are so important is because over time, people begin craving the reward whenever they see the cue, and that craving makes a habit occur automatically.'" - NPR Books

"The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg is an important book about the impact of habits on individuals, organizations and even entire movements of people. The book explains how habits work, how to create new habits by introducing "craves" and the mechanics of why our habits change. Examples of classic craves are set forth like Starbuck's coffee and others." - Seattle Pi

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as “chunking,” and it’s the root of how habits form.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of behavioural chunks that we rely on every day.

Once that habit starts unfolding, our gray matter is free to quiet itself or chase other thoughts.

Asking patients to describe what triggers their habitual behaviour is the first step in habit reversal training.

Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save efforts.

Starbucks is one of the world’s largest companies that had succeeded in teaching the life skills that schools, families, and communities failed to provide.

Although it may seem like most organizations make rational choices based on deliberate decision making, but that’s not really how companies operate at all. Instead, firms are guided by long-held organizational habits that often emerge from thousands of employees’ independent decisions.

Social habits are what fill streets with protestors who may not know one another, who might be marching for different reason, but who are all moving in the same direction.

Social habits are why some initiatives become world-changing movements.

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