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

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed. Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figu...

Title:The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1400069289
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:286 pages

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Reviews

  • Trevor

    I need to start with the obvious – this guy is one of those writers. One of those writers that make you want to track him down and hurt him. And not just him, maybe even his pets too. He assumes you are as thick as dog-shit and that you won’t get what it is he is talking about unless he makes it painfully (PAINFULLY) clear. He has missed his calling. He really should have gone into the self-help book market – let’s face it, assuming your readers are dumb in that market is just ‘responding to rea

    I need to start with the obvious – this guy is one of those writers. One of those writers that make you want to track him down and hurt him. And not just him, maybe even his pets too. He assumes you are as thick as dog-shit and that you won’t get what it is he is talking about unless he makes it painfully (PAINFULLY) clear. He has missed his calling. He really should have gone into the self-help book market – let’s face it, assuming your readers are dumb in that market is just ‘responding to reality’.

    You might be wondering why I gave this book three stars, given I wanted to find ways to hurt the author. Well, the problem is that some of the ideas here are not insane, in fact, some are really well worth thinking about. It’s just that someone (someone who also needs hunted down, now that I think about it) has told this guy you need to ‘tell a story’. And while this is often excellent advice – you also need to remember that people are reading your book for a reason and that reason isn’t to cry over the last moments of a drug addict’s life or to find out how the skunk lady got laid. No, it is to find out about the affect of habits and what we can do to change the habits of a life time that are stuffing up our lives.

    I’ve been reading lots of Bourdieu lately. He talks of Habitus – what he calls the ‘feel for the game’, but basically the habits we have that are so unconscious we don't even know they are habits and so, therefore, have no idea what a huge part they play in shaping the kinds of people we are. So we tend to think that because we wouldn’t do something someone else clearly has done that automatically qualifies us for the golden stamp of merit. Whereas, so much of what we do in life is either non-rational or automatic – having those automatic structures implanted in us from no age is more a matter of luck than of rational deliberation.

    This guy stuffs up his argument at the end by not having the conviction of what his view on habits was telling him. He tells a long, long, long story of a woman that lost everything through gambling. Terribly sad and all that. But obviously this book is written in America and so nothing can come between the rights of rich people to take money from poor people. So, the fact that casinos do everything to manipulate you so that you end up with nothing is YOUR fault, not theirs – have you no self control? Have you no free will? I think this guy should read Sam Harris’s new book. Either that or he needs to also argue that it should be ok for drug dealers to offer kids drugs at schools and in the streets – if one is wrong it isn’t at all obvious why the other is right. And if not drugs to kids, then drugs to adults – unless I’m missing something the same argument applies.

    This book is quite chilling in that it explains – in very long and all too often boring detail, in fact endless bloody detail, just how companies like Target are targeting you and manipulating you to buy and buy and buy. Yet again this is presented as if it was nothing to be concerned about – but I struggled to read it as something I should just shrug and get over. When I first learned about data warehousing it sent a cold shiver down my spine – I have never had ‘Fly Buys’ or any other of those ‘loyalty’ programs that give those arseholes all of my details so they can work out how to better market to people like me. I’m manipulated enough in life without needing to provide billionaires with better weapons to trip me up.

    The information in this book is very worthwhile. But if you ever needed proof that Gladwell has lots to answer for, this book is Item A on the case for the prosecution.

    And what the hell is it about American Football? I hope to God it isn’t nearly as uninteresting to watch as it is to read about. No wonder Americans invade countries at the drop of a hat – anything to get away from two down on the thirty-first yard line with a wingback on a hiding to nowhere blah, blah AHHHHH!!!!

  • K

    Read this because of fascinating NYT magazine excerpt on how Target tracks our buying habits. The rest of the book is not as compelling -- anecdotes sometimes don't support particular arguments he's attempting to illustrate (the Hey-Ya examples being the most egregious), and his section on how social movements occur is weak and unconvincing, and not really about habits, per se. Style and structure were often clunky, and the book seems a bit muddled as its ultimate purpose. I dunno, I guess I was

    Read this because of fascinating NYT magazine excerpt on how Target tracks our buying habits. The rest of the book is not as compelling -- anecdotes sometimes don't support particular arguments he's attempting to illustrate (the Hey-Ya examples being the most egregious), and his section on how social movements occur is weak and unconvincing, and not really about habits, per se. Style and structure were often clunky, and the book seems a bit muddled as its ultimate purpose. I dunno, I guess I was expecting slightly more substantial psychology or social science and instead got more of a book solidly for businesses/manager types and people on the beginning of their self-help journeys. But I fall into the latter category, so why am I pooh pooh-ing this book so much? I dunno. Maybe I am just jealous of how $$$ money this dude's gonna make at corporate speaking gigs.

    Anyway, lessons I'll take away --

    *making your bed every morning and committing to regular exercise are two habits that can transform your entire goddamn life

    *Diagram about mouse brain activity spike post-reward eventually arriving prior to reward (the origin of cravings)

    *Changing habits requires identifying the cues and rewards that trigger and support the habit behavior, then trying out various substitutes for the behavior that might achieve the same reward

    *deliberate advance plans for responding to challenging situations can be extremely helpful (ex Scottish knee/hip replacement patients, Michael Phelps, Starbucks)

    *With more challenging habits like alcoholism or stuff related to football, true belief and submission to some higher purpose is necessary

    *in general, it's more effective to change others' habits if you make them believe they have some power or authority over their decision than if you coerce them with force

    *casinos are super evil

  • Rhianna

    This may be a crappy review since its going up via iPhone. Sorry.

    First caveat: I work in research. A big part of my job is creating these habit loops and seeing if they can be altered or enhanced via medication.

    Second caveat: I'm a nerd and love journal articles, scientific writing, and technical reading, even off the job.

    Third caveat: I only got to chapter eight.

    I honestly don't know what I was expecting. By far and large, when there's big buzz about a book I inevitably dislike it with very

    This may be a crappy review since its going up via iPhone. Sorry.

    First caveat: I work in research. A big part of my job is creating these habit loops and seeing if they can be altered or enhanced via medication.

    Second caveat: I'm a nerd and love journal articles, scientific writing, and technical reading, even off the job.

    Third caveat: I only got to chapter eight.

    I honestly don't know what I was expecting. By far and large, when there's big buzz about a book I inevitably dislike it with very few exceptions. I was hoping for something smart and eye opening; a different, more personal take on habits and addiction (which is really what a habit is if you think about it), and I was let down mostly by the writing and anecdotes. I realize this book isn't intended for scientific review, but when there were so many teasing moments of talking about the research going on, I guess I just expected a little more substance in laymans terms.

    The biggest problem I had with the book was that I probably could have only read the first few chapters and have a total grasp of the theory. While some stories were interesting, they reminded me of Grandpa Simpson's storytelling. I don't think we needed so many examples that all said the same thing. Think of all the trees that could have been saved if a few were omitted.

    Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad read. People with a non-neuroscience background can enjoy it and will learn something from it. Although how to apply it to your life is pretty much missing from the book (unless it was in the chapters I didn't get to yet). Yeah, find a new reward to break bad habits, but how? It would have been interesting to see those suggestions.

    Overall, not horrible. Had it not been a book club read I wouldn't have picked it up of my own volition, but I'm not upset that I read most of it. I am upset that I kept reading hoping to get something different in the next chapter, which didn't happen. Just save the time and money and read his NY Times article (at least I think it was there) instead.

  • Riku Sayuj

    Hey. Have you heard of Thomas Baker? How about Carol Wright? Chris Cameron? Vineet Shaw? Let us discuss Baker.

    Thomas Baker was an average joe, but not without ambitions. A few years ago, acting on a tip, Tom, a competitive enough guy, decided to take his life into his own hands. What’s more, he decided to pick up one more Self-help book and this time follow up thoroughly on it. No holds barred. He asked around, looked in that wonderful site and finally

    Hey. Have you heard of Thomas Baker? How about Carol Wright? Chris Cameron? Vineet Shaw? Let us discuss Baker.

    Thomas Baker was an average joe, but not without ambitions. A few years ago, acting on a tip, Tom, a competitive enough guy, decided to take his life into his own hands. What’s more, he decided to pick up one more Self-help book and this time follow up thoroughly on it. No holds barred. He asked around, looked in that wonderful site and finally decided on what seemed to him like the best out there right now. The ratings seemed to be out of the world too. The author, in the intro, even tries to reassure him against feeling overwhelmed by the excess of research in the book. This is exactly the sort of help that Tom needed.

    Tom read the book with great diligence. He made notes and he made placards and he even bought magnets for his fridge and special sticky tapes for his mirrors. He knew this could work. He only had to believe.

    He changed his routines, identified and included habit-forming cues. He created them, he played around with them, he even had some fun. He was very inventive and imaginative. The author would have commended the effort if he knew. Tom decide that he would write to Duhigg about his success once it pays off.

    Tom had made slight improvements but no major pay-off seemed to be in the offing. He chided himself for expecting windfalls. He reminded himself that these things take time. He kept at it.

    Even the minor gains he had made originally have fallen by the wayside now. He had read the book thrice in this time, trying to reaffirm his faith. He was discouraged now but he kept at it.

    The book is long forgotten. But Tom had taken the trouble to document his experiences and had sent a detailed case study to the author. He had requested that it be included in the next edition of the book. He wanted the author to include a chapter on failures - on how it might not work for everyone. He wanted a caveat, a mild statement of warning that just because a book worth of case studies of success is presented, there is no reason to expect that any approach (no matter how good) might work for everyone. Humans would be fulfilling Asimovesque dreams if that were the case. He thought this would add depth and realism to an otherwise fine book.

    He did not even get an auto-generated acknowledgment slip. But that was ok, he had discovered a new Gladwell book on another airport aisle. Apparently, it is not just habits that doesn’t stick, lessons don’t either.

  • sleeps9hours

    I just read Kelly McGonigal's "The Willpower Instinct", so I can't help but compare the two.

    Duhigg is an investigative reporter for the NY Times, while McGonigal is a research psychologist, and the differences come across in the writing. McGonigal has a much better grasp on the research and how to apply it, while Duhigg brings in stories that are entertaining but stretch his powers of interpretation. His most annoying stylistic problem is that he breaks his stories up, stopping one to start anot

    I just read Kelly McGonigal's "The Willpower Instinct", so I can't help but compare the two.

    Duhigg is an investigative reporter for the NY Times, while McGonigal is a research psychologist, and the differences come across in the writing. McGonigal has a much better grasp on the research and how to apply it, while Duhigg brings in stories that are entertaining but stretch his powers of interpretation. His most annoying stylistic problem is that he breaks his stories up, stopping one to start another and then coming back to it later. I assume he's trying to add a sense of anticipation and drama to what should otherwise be a straightforward nonfiction book, but I found it frustrating for him to be jumping back and forth for no good reason.

    I did enjoy many of his stories though. The most interesting was in the section about social habits where he explains why the arrest of Rosa Parks was so influential while other black women at the same time had also refused to give up their seats but didn't spark much interest (Parks had social ties across dozens of groups, black and white, and knew some people of influence). The entire story of how Martin Luther King, Jr. became involved, and all the people who got the bus boycott rolling is so fascinating to hear in detail.

  • Johnny

    Judging from the prologue of

    , the first thing necessary in modifying one’s behavior is to note the actual components of that behavior. The author cites a visit with a military officer in charge of normalizing a village (Kufa) in Iraq. The officer started by observing video of how riots began and noticed that the trouble usually broke out after people had milled around for a while and food trucks and spectators arrived. He changed the

    Judging from the prologue of

    , the first thing necessary in modifying one’s behavior is to note the actual components of that behavior. The author cites a visit with a military officer in charge of normalizing a village (Kufa) in Iraq. The officer started by observing video of how riots began and noticed that the trouble usually broke out after people had milled around for a while and food trucks and spectators arrived. He changed the behavior by asking the mayor not to allow food trucks into the areas where people were demonstrating (p. 13 on Sony eReader, as will be all pagination in the remainder of this review). Something as simple as the presence of food trucks threw off a habit of violence and allowed some normalization. This seemed amazing, but something resonated strongly with this truth.

    begins with anecdotal accounts of people who changed destructive habits in their lives and one account of a man who had absolutely no short term memory but was able to function as a result of habits already ingrained within him. The latter case demonstrated that there was something distinctive between one part of our brain and another. So, the author takes the reader on a tour of a lab at M.I.T. where scientists have been researching a golf ball-sized lump in the brain called the basal ganglia since 1990 (p. 25). Apparently, the basal ganglia stores habits while the rest of the brain works less and less

    the “chunks” of actions stored in that section of the brain takes over (p. 26).

    Arriving at this understanding, researchers were able to use different experiments to ascertain a “habit loop.” They noticed that a certain cue triggers a set of automatic reactions such that the being feels rewarded. As a result of being rewarded, there is an even stronger response to the same cue on the next occasion (p. 29) Of course, if reward can reinforce the habit whenever one senses that cue, changing the reward can eventually extinguish that habit (p. 30) as the researchers discovered by moving the chocolate around the maze to mess up the behaviors.

    So, what kinds of “cues” work?

    tells the story of Claude Hopkins, an advertising legend who “created” the demand for toothpaste by creating a “craving.” Hopkins noticed in dental research that there is a film that forms on our teeth. He decided to get people to “feel” the mucin plaques on their teeth by calling them “the film” and suggesting that “beauty” comes from eliminating the film (p. 40). By identifying a “cue” (the film that is almost always there) and suggesting a “reward” (getting rid of that film), he established a multi-million dollar product.

    Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, the book goes on to tell the story of Febreze, the air freshener that started out as a failure. Even though it was extremely effective in getting rid of odors, it wasn’t selling because people in odiferous situations became used to the odors. They weren’t getting the cue. So, there had to be a better way to cue the reward and that came to be with pleasant fragrances and the idea of “finishing” a task with beautiful smelling Febreze (a tactic that is still being used in dozens of new products in this product line to the present day (p. 56). The “habit loop” works even better when a “craving” is attached to it. It turns out that Pepsodent already had the craving element built in with the citric acid or mint taste that rewarded users with a tingling sense of feeling clean. It’s pretty masterful the way this author closes the loop in each chapter.

    Then, a chapter introduces the “Golden Rule” of habit change. It notes that you can never quite remove a bad habit, but you need to substitute a new routine between the cue and the reward (p. 61). In this chapter, Tony Dungy’s coaching philosophy of substituting a simpler playbook with more repetition for the old routine of over-thinking what one might be trying to do. In this way, the new routine would reside between the cue (hiking the ball?) and the reward (scoring a touchdown? Making a sack of the QB?) and more success would result (p. 62). Naturally, this chapter wraps Dungy’s experiences with turning around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts football teams around the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Both Dungy as a coach and Bill Wilson who founded A.A. teach people to substitute new routines for the old ones (p. 68), bad football in the former and alcohol abuse in the latter.

    One of the keys to Dungy’s eventual success and one of the core tenets of A.A. (or any 12-step) program is that one must believe in something. Dungy complained early on that practice was going well and everything was coming together, but the training would disappear during the big games. When he heard the players saying that they went back to what they knew during critical games, Dungy said, “What they were

    saying was that they trusted our system most of the time, but when everything was on the line, that belief broken down.” (p. 75) And, as one researching from the University of New Mexico noted, belief is critical in order for change to work in the long run (p. 78).

    The section on “habits” in business wasn’t as interesting to me, but even there I found some intriguing aspects. It was fascinating to read about how “keystone habits encourage widespread change: by creating cultures where new values become ingrained.” (p. 109) This section told the story of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’ Neill’s success at Alcoa. O’ Neill’s emphasis was safety. By placing the emphasis on safety, he gave the corporation something around which management (because of reducing lost work days) and unions (because of emphasizing the safety of the workers) could both agree upon. There was also an insight with regard to the gay liberation movement. Duhigg suggests that when the Library of Congress re-categorized books on homosexuality as its own subject matter rather than under mental illness, it provided a paradigm shift that fueled the movement (p. 100). It just shows how little shifts can have seismic effects, not only on individuals, but on society.

    Another corporate chapter used an experiment on willpower where half of the group was allowed to eat fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies while another group was forced to eat radishes. Sounds like the latter would have a healthy advantage when the group was asked to perform a complex problem which had no real solution! Sounds like they would be more mentally fresh! Wrong! Those who had eaten the radishes were most likely to quit after only a few minutes while the cookie eaters kept on for half an hour or so. Why? Researchers concluded that the first portion of the experiment had used up much of the finite willpower in the radish eaters (p. 119). A later study showed that using kindness to set up the willpower goals as opposed to ordering willpower allowed those who experienced kindness to concentrate longer (p. 130).

    Building on that idea, Duhigg recounted a Scottish rehabilitation study where the elderly patients who were most successful in learning to walk again in spite of excruciating pain had identified potential obstacles in advance and created their own ways of dealing with them. “Put another way, the patients’ plans were built around inflection points when they knew their pain—and thus the temptation to quit—would be the strongest.” (p. 124) Starbucks put this to work in what they called the LATTE method (Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then, Explain why the problem occurred.) in dealing with irate customers (p. 126).

    Another chapter deals with destructive institutional habits: “There are no organizations without institutional habits. There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought, so they often grow from rivalries or fear.” (p. 137) “Companies aren’t families. They’re battlefields in a civil war.” (p. 139)

    I was also fascinated with the chapter on consumer behavior. Did you know that almost everyone turns right after entering a retail establishment and that retailers stock their most profitable items on the right side of the store? (p. 157) Did you know that people’s buying habits change when they go through a major life event (marriage, having a child, divorce, moving)? (p. 162)

    And, in the facts are stranger than fiction department, Duhigg cites a company named Polyphonic HMI that statistically analyzes the mathematical characters of a song and predicts its popularity. (p. 167) Why is that strange? It’s because Norman Spinrad, a terrific science-fiction author, “predicts” it in his novel in the 1980s--

    . Sorry, Duhigg doesn’t cite Spinrad; that’s me. I was happy that Duhigg recounted a huge Polyphonic miscalculation. It also explained why I don’t listen to music on the radio very much: “Our brains crave familiarity in music because familiarity is how we manage to hear without becoming distracted by all the sound.” (p. 171) I actually listen to the radio for stimuli.

    The section on the habits of societies was particularly relevant to me because the first chapter dealt with churches, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Montgomery church and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church. Starting with the idea of a social network of friendships and growing through informal ties (Duhigg calls them “weak ties”) and changing community habits, social habits turn on personal integrity and relationships. Duhigg pointed out how Rosa Park’s ties that transcended the social stratifications of the black community through her volunteer involvement with many groups on many levels enabled her to become the catalyst that she was (p. 184)

    The important insight that was new to me was: “The habits of peer pressure … often spread through weak ties. And they gain their authority through communal expectations. If you ignore the social obligations of your neighborhood, if you shrug off the expected patterns of your community, you risk losing your social standing.” (p. 189)

    Sadly, I was disappointed in the section on Rick Warren. The book makes it sound like Warren selected Saddleback Community from a long way away by citing Warren’s seminary education in Texas and work as a volunteer missionary in Japan. Strangely, it doesn’t mention the fact that Saddleback was only a little more 30 minutes drive from where Warren attended college in Riverside or that Warren’s father had been a professional minister in California prior to his retirement. I did like the emphasis on small groups as the key to creating a “sticky” environment that “…drew on already-existing social urges and patterns.” (p. 198)

    One significant section of the book was dedicated to the idea of whether we are responsible for our habits. By juxtaposing the tale of a gambler (if you listen to This American Life on public radio, you probably heard this story) who went to court with a major casino chain by insisting that the casino operators were responsible for her problem alongside that of a British subject who killed his wife during sleep terrors, Duhigg raises the issue but concludes by stating that he believes it is possible to change habits—any habits. The gambler protested that she just wanted to feel good at something (p. 208) and the killer protested that he honestly thought his wife was a male intruder assaulting his wife (p. 209).

    This section pointed out that, for example, sleepwalking is a reminder that sleep and wakefulness aren't that separate so that the brain can accomplish complex activities and nothing is guiding the brain except patterns. (pp. 210-211) Even more powerful are the behaviors described as “sleep terrors.” Sleep terrors are primitive neurological patterns (p.212). It even points out that a 2010 MRI study of gamblers discovered that, to pathological gamblers, brain activity was so high that it treated near misses as wins (p.220) when, in fact, they were losses.

    So, can such ingrained perceptions be changed? Duhigg cites William James’ decision to believe in free will as opposed to surrendering to suicide (p. 226). As James tried his 12 month long experiment, he discovered that habits were based upon exercising them (pp. 226-227) much like a well-folded paper or an old pair of well-creased slacks.

    And all of these great narratives point the reader toward the most useful part of the book, learning to change behavior by identifying the routine, figuring out the cue that triggers the routine and the craving underlying that cue by experimenting with different rewards (p. 230). If you can figure out what you really want and substitute a better routine to satisfy that craving, you will be well on your way toward changing that habit. That doesn’t mean you won’t fall off the wagon, but it means you will be on your way to shaping your actions by your will as opposed to ingrained behaviors.

  • Robert Chapman

    This is great book, and you need to read it. How is that for a definitive opening line? The reason it’s such a good book is because it uses research to explain how habits are formed and changed. Everyone knows someone who was out of shape, or was a smoker, and then in what appeared as if almost overnight, changed themselves in a short period of time. How did they do that? They formed new habits and changed old ones, that’s how.

    Do something enough and it becomes a habit, good or bad. This is expl

    This is great book, and you need to read it. How is that for a definitive opening line? The reason it’s such a good book is because it uses research to explain how habits are formed and changed. Everyone knows someone who was out of shape, or was a smoker, and then in what appeared as if almost overnight, changed themselves in a short period of time. How did they do that? They formed new habits and changed old ones, that’s how.

    Do something enough and it becomes a habit, good or bad. This is explained in the book by research on memory loss. For example, the research found that patients suffering from memory loss could not show someone where the kitchen is when asked, but once they got hungry the would get up and go to the kitchen automatically.

    This is made possible by the habit loop of cue, routine, and reward. The cue makes the brain find the routine as it anticipates the reward. A classic example is stress and smoking, the cue is stress, the routine is smoking, the reward is the feeling the cigarette brings.

    I was most interested in how the book described changing a habit. Let’s face it, we all have habits we want to change. To accomplish this we need to keep the cue and reward, but change the routine. I’ll use an example from my own life to illustrate. I love chocolate, and to make it worse I love to eat at it night. Well I love to eat at night because that is how I formed the habit some time ago. I used the guidance from this book to change that habit. I kept the cue and reward, but I changed the routine to use apples instead of chocolate.

    This logic flows into much larger problem sets such as organizations and communities. Focus on changing one thing, the keystone habit from which a cascade of other habits will form. The author illustrates this example by discussing how the company Alcoa was transformed by the keystone habit of a singular focus on safety.

    The book flows really well and uses research throughout to substantiate the concepts presented. The audience who can benefit from this book is vast, from individuals to corporates to governments.

  • Nandakishore Varma

    I remember reading a story by the famous Malayalam writer Padmarajan called

    ("A Tragedy of Recent Times"). It tells of a housing colony in Kerala, bitten by the exercise bug in the early eighties. Someone gets up before sunrise and starts jogging. Soon, he is joined by more and more people until the whole colony is out running, every day. This leaves the houses unattended which comes to the notice of a group of thieves: and they conduct a spate of early morning robberie

    I remember reading a story by the famous Malayalam writer Padmarajan called

    ("A Tragedy of Recent Times"). It tells of a housing colony in Kerala, bitten by the exercise bug in the early eighties. Someone gets up before sunrise and starts jogging. Soon, he is joined by more and more people until the whole colony is out running, every day. This leaves the houses unattended which comes to the notice of a group of thieves: and they conduct a spate of early morning robberies. The people of the colony, even after a couple of houses are robbed, continue their morning ritual - they can't stop, even after they know that their houses may be invaded any time.

    Padmarajan ostensibly wrote this seemingly absurd and Kafkaesque story to make fun of the urban animal, blindly following the latest fad. But he may have more true to life than he thought.

    Such is the power of habit.

    ------------------------------

    This book by Duhigg, if you can get past the unnecessarily prolix prose, says a very simple but significant thing: habit is what drives you. From picking your nose to gambling away your life's savings, ingrained habits hard-coded into your brain makes you tick. It follows the "cue-routine-reward" loop as illustrated below:

    (Cue = a certain time; routine = eat a cookie; reward = diversion from work)

    Habits are not endemic to people alone - organisations and societies also have habits, which why they are so resistant to change.

    The key to getting rid of a destructive habit is to replace it with a constructive one. In the loop illustrated above, the cue and the reward would remain the same, but a different routine can be substituted. See below:

    (Here the routine of "have a drink" is replaced with "have a chat")

    This is easier said than done, however: it requires real effort to identify a habit, and great will power (which can be cultivated, according to Duhigg) to change it. But it can be done. Successful individuals have changed their lives by changing destructive habits: successful executives have turned around companies by changing corporate habits: and leaders have transformed societies. Examples abound in this book.

    And please note: supermarket chains and gambling dens monitor our habits and feed those which will drain our pockets and maximise their profits.

    ------------------------------

    This book is well worth a read. I only wish that the author had cut the fluff and trimmed it down to a slimmer volume.

    But then, the

    of writing needlessly long books among American journalists is one that dies hard.


Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.