The Power of Habit: Beat or Myth ?

The Power of Habit: lessons about how to read the human mind and to play the power of thought- by Charles Duhigg

Why do habits exist? How could these be changed in order to transform our personal lives? How do habits interact with our businesses’ and communities’ lives?

The Power of Habit, written by award-winning New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg, takes us through the latest scientific discoveries  and gives us answers to questions like these.

These nuggets (visual quotes from books) and a the summary of the book will help you find out more about Charles Duhigg’s approach.


'There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.' @cduhigg Click To Tweet

What does The Power of Habit mean? I bet right now you’re trying to define some habits in your mind. I know that was my first thought when I saw the title of this book.

Do you need a clue? You may start with the things you say to your loved ones. Or maybe with the food that you choose to eat, whether you save or spend money recklessly, how often you exercise and the way you organize your thoughts day by day.

At the first sight, habits, by themselves, seem to be insignificant. But you should look closer and dive deeper in the story line.

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Soon you’ll realize that, over time, habits start having a great impact on our happiness, health, productivity and financial security.

Before you start reading The Power of Habit, I’m selling you a tip. To be properly engaged in this reading adventure about habits, try to imagine this book as a three-levels building:

  1. At the first floor you’ll feel yourself at home. And that’s because the messages about habits are structured around the individuals. The first section focuses on how habits emerge within individual lives. It explores the neurology of habit forming, how to build new habits and change the old ones, and the specific methods involved.
  2. Are you tired after too much introspection? Take the elevator to the second floor. It’s time for a coffee break. No. This is not only wordplay. At this level you’ll find out how big companies, like Starbucks, turned habits into profitable businesses.
  3. At the top floor things become increasingly clear. We are more than individuals with specifics habits. And more than consumers. Halfway between individuals and crowd, we find ourselves part of groups, communities. You guessed right. This part is about societies’ habits.

Are you searching for answers to your own doubts? This is the self-help book you must read!

Are you looking for something more scientific about habits?

This is the perfect way you can start your research. I have a big interest in this topic. So, after I’ve been reading it, my very first impression was that this book is a well-documented collection of insights. The reporting in this book is based on hundreds of academic studies, interviews with more than three hundred scientists, executives and research conducted at dozens of companies.

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits— practical, emotional, and intellectual— systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be ” William James

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.

In the last decade, our understanding of the neurology and psychology of habits has expanded in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined fifty years ago. We now know why habits emerge, how they can be changed, and the science behind the way they work.

Keeping that in mind, The Power of Habit is a framework for understanding how habits work and a basic guide for attempting change, not a one size fits all solution. Solutions for changing the patterns in our lives should differ from person to person and behavior to behavior. For example, giving up smoking is different from how you prioritize work-related tasks, which is also different from changing the way you communicate with your partner.

One of the most thought-provoking parts of the book is The Neurology of Free Will.

In this chapter Charles Duhigg, explores if people should be taken responsible for acting thoughtlessly due to their habits.

Thomas’ case:  a sleepwalker that killed his wife during a camping trip because of a sleep terror. Once the most primitive parts of his brain were exposed to a cue— someone strangling his wife— his habit took over and he fought back, with no chance of his higher cognition interceding.

Guilty or innocent? His lawyer argued: Thomas was guilty for nothing more than being human and for reacting in the way his neurology— and most primitive habits— forced him to behave.

Thomas’s lawyer argued that his client hadn’t meant to kill his wife— in fact, he wasn’t even in control of his own actions that night.

Instead, he was reacting automatically to a perceived threat. He was following a habit almost as old as our species: the instinct to fight an attacker and protect a loved one.

Are you used to check the Appendix after reading a book? If not, it’s time to change this habit.

If you’ll check the Appendix part of this book, you’ll find here a real comprehensible reader’s guide to using the ideas presented. You may be able to use these step-by-step through the actual process of habit-changing.

Manipulative or strategic? Many, if not all of the top companies, have achieved enormous success by altering people’s habits. By luck or design, they’ve been tapping into a powerful psychological pattern called the habit loop.

Our brains process habits in a three-step loop.

  • First, there is a trigger – the cue that tells your brain which habit to use.
  • Then there is the actual routine, which can be physical, mental or emotional.
  • Finally, there is a reward, which reinforces the behavior.

But let’s put everything in one sentence: only by understanding the way a habit operates, by diagnosing the exact cue, the routine and the reward, you gain power over it. Even in this form, this theory sounds very clear.

“The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group.”

Distilling vast amounts of information into stories you’ll take a journey from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement.

The Power of Habit presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

Friends or enemies? Habits are a part our lives and are defining the human being nature. Until you start reading this book, check some nuggets. I bet you’ll find interesting ideas. And you may start with this one:

'There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.' @cduhigg Click To Tweet

there's nothing you can't do

Want to get the full book in Kindle version? Get it from here:
Get Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow from AmazonDaniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow from Audible

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