The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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Title and Author:   The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Synopsis of Content:  

Duhigg explores what science has to teach us about how habits are formed, how they function, how they can be modified and how they influence our lives and our business world. The book is divided into three parts: The Habits of Individuals, The Habits of Successful Organizations, and the Habits of Societies.

Based on studies of animal behavior and human behavior, we (that is rats, monkeys and humans) form habits the same way. There is a cue of some kind that triggers a habit, followed by some form of routine that has been completed memorized and operates more or less automatically, followed by some form of reward that reinforces the habit. Whether it is buckling our seat belt, brushing out teeth, smoking a cigarette or using heroin, this same habit loop operates in all of us.

The brain creates habits because it simplifies our activities. If we had to consciously decide and think out everything we do every day throughout the day from scratch it would be overwhelming for the brain. Habits are little routines that automate aspects of our behavior. We are not usually conscious that the habit is being formed, and once it is in place we need not expend much thought to follow it. It is a very effective efficiency that our minds use to free us up to think about other things.

Since we now know how a habit is formed and how they function we can modify existing habits and create new ones. We must identify the right cue which leads to the desired routine which is then followed by the reward. We must know in advance, or expect, the reward to motivate us to engage in the routine. The reward generates endorphins in the brain which are powerful motivators. They motivate us to repeat the routine every time the cue occurs. It is a bit more complex than that, but that is the gist of it.

Duhigg goes on to explain in fascinating detail how studies have shown us how we can modify a habit and how to replace one habit with another. This is very important because we can learn from it how to replace a bad habit (smoking) with a good one (exercise).

Certain habits also develop in organizations and in societies and they come together to create a culture, whether it is the culture of a corporation or the culture of a society. Culture, it seems, is primarily driven by key habits.

What I found useful about this book:

This book helps us understand how habits are formed and how we can use them to our benefit, change them when we need to and replace them when necessary. Duhigg does warn the reader that although we understand the way habits are made and altered it is not always easy to do it. Determining the actual cue for example can take some experimentation and work.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written. It is engaging. It contains lots of references to studies and science but not in a dry or boring way. It is a series of fascinating stories. It is very well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Charles Duhigg is an award winning investigative reporter for the New York Times.

Other Books by This Author:

Smarter, Faster, Better

Related Website:   

http://charlesduhigg.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Habits all function in the same basic way: a cue begins a behavior routine which ends in a reward. Once we understand this we can understand how habits work and how to change them or use them.
  2. We are manipulated every day by business through habits. Marketing has become in many ways habit focused.
  3. Once we know how to form and change a habit we can gain more real control over our own behaviors; we can replace bad habits and create good ones.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Copyright holder: ©2012 by Charles Duhigg
Publisher: Random House

Book of the Month: December 2016

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com