The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Book Review

Posted on 25 September 2012 by jgavan101

The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg revealed how it habits are very influencial in our daily actions and decisions and how habits can be changes by following a simple process.

The Power of Habit Book Cover

I was interested with the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business because I have habits I like to change. I want to run more consistently. I want to reduce my trips to fast food chains. I want to make use of my time and resources more effectively.  The Power of Habit gave me insights on how to change these habits.

Part One of The Power of Habit discusses how habits are formed, how to create new habits and how to change old habits. The discussion are based on scientific studies with great real-life examples about habits.

Part Two and Part Three are topics of how habits affects organizations and societies. It also introduces the concept of keystone habits or how small changes affects a greater change.

The The Power of Habit is an interesting read with real life stories, case studies and groundbreaking updates on research. I love these parts of the book.

However, it is not every complete on how you can change your habits. What is provides instead is a framework or a guide. But the actual process on how to stop smoking or how to start a successful exercise regimen is not given in detail.

Some stories seems to be written too long and very little empahsis is given on the research findings and its applications. This is somewhat good to lessen the boredom on lengthly scholarly words but I does leave some cravings for more information that I can apply for a personal level.

Overall, the book was an eye opener and has left some practical tips on applying and changing habits. The stories kept every chapter interesting that I never left the book down for two days until I finished reading it.

Daddy Rating:  4 of 5

Daddy Rating 4 of 5

 

The Power of Habits Key Summaries

Here are some parts and quotes from the book worth remembering.

  • The habit loop is composed of (1) The cue, (2) the routine, and (3) the reward.
  • Craving is what powers the habit loop. (Daddy’s notes: The author explains that because of the craving, the habit will continue on and on.)
  • This is how new habits are created: by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.
  • To start a new habit (like running regularly), it is essential that you choose a simple cue (like leaving your running clothes next to your bed) and a clear reward (like a midday treat or a sense of accomplishment).
  • Cravings are what drives habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.
  • Habits aren’t destiny. Habits can be ignored, changed, or replaced.
  • To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.
  • That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.
  • We know that a habit cannot be eradicated — it must, instead, be replaced.
  • For habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible.
  • For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.
  • Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. These are keystone habits. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.
  • Exercise spills over. There’s something about it that makes other good habits easier.
  • Studies have documented that families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence.
  • Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger sense at sticking with a budget.
  • A way that keystone habits encourage change is by creating structures that help other habits to flourish.
  • This keystone habit — food journaling — created a structure that helped other habits to flourish. Six months into the study people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone else.
  • Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.
  • Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ.
  • Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms and legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.
  • “That’s why signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is so important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star,” said Heatherton. “When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strenght. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.”
  • This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following the routine when an inflection point arrives.
  • Pregnant women and new parents are the holy grail of retail. There is almost no more profitable, product-hungry, price-insensitive group in existence.
  • People’s buying habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event.
  • “Some thinkers,” Aristotle wrote in Nicomechean Ethics, “hold that it is by nature that people become good, other that it is by habit, and other that it is by instruction.” For Aristotle, habits reigned supreme. The behaviors that occur unthinkingly are the evidence of our truest selves, he said.
  • If you believe you cna change — if you make it a habit — the change becomes real. This is the real power of habit: the insight that you habits are what you choose them to be.
  • The framework to change a habit:
    (1) identify a routine
    (2) experiment with rewards
    (3) isolate the cue
    (4) have a plan

Here’s a video by the author, Charles Duhigg about changing habits. You can also download an infographic on how to change habits here.

 

Check out the book at Amazon.com and other related topics.

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