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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in…

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2012)

by Charles Duhigg

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3,8631681,985 (3.87)79
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    mene: In "The Power of Habit", it is described why people do things a certain way. The reason people buy so many things is also explained. "No Impact Man" is a good example of someone changing their habits (in a very extreme way). The author of "No Impact Man" also talks about why people buy so many things, among other things.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
The book is interesting and entertaining. I got what I wanted from the book, thus my expectations were met. The writing style is informative, but it doesn't really bog you down with details. I would read it again, but I have three other Library books to read. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Part disguised self-help book and part pop psychology, but still an enjoyable read.

The book's first part is about the "science" of habits. In particular, Duhigg claims that in order for our brains to handle everyday tasks, the majority of our actions are actually habits, in order to reduce the processing power that our brain uses. Duhigg discusses the association between habits and the most primitive part of our brains. In a sense, habits are hardwired for evolutionary reasons. Duhigg claims that the brain is most active during the cue phase, turns semi-automatic during the routine phase and lights up again during the reward phase. Duhigg goes on to argue that a well defined reward creates cravings in an individual (Duhigg claims that this is the reason that toothpaste has suds, and a slight minty taste, and explained the phenomenal success of Hopkins in selling toothpaste, a nice tie into Attention Merchants). Duhigg goes on to claim that it is impossible to replace routines entirely, only to change them by changing the routine associated with the cue and rewards (Duhigg also suggests interruption of the cue to break bad habits). The argument goes on to argue that change of routines often break down under pressure but can only persist with the belief that change is possible, this can come from a belief in a higher power, a crisis or just being in a community of others who demonstrate it is possible (Duhigg attributes the success of AA to providing this belief along with cue identification). This part stuck out to me, as having important implications for providing hope to the disadvantaged and the importance of mentors in one's life.

Duhigg then moves onto organizational habits (this is where I start to think that Duhigg has ran out of things to say and is trying to lengthen the book by finding attenuated applications). Duhigg discusses the importance of willpower in forming good habits (Duhigg believes in the ego depletion theory of will power, but believes it is easier to keep willpower by coming up with contingency plans). An attempt is made to link the idea of keystone habits (habits that have positive spillover effects) and the success of Alolca after Paul O'Neill focused on worker safety. In one of the weaker chapters of the book, Duhigg tries to argue that successful leaders use crisis and may prolong a sense of crisis to achieve change, often by making everyone responsible but still creating an organizational structure where the buck stops somewhere. Duhigg discusses the modern use of big data by sellers to target individual consumers, and how radio stations sneak in novel songs by sandwiching it between familiar songs (songs that fit our stereotype of a certain genre). The chapter on the montgomery bus boycott was interesting, though its connection to habits was attenuated. Duhigg claims that the reason Rosa Park inspired movement was because of her strong ties across social strata (involvement in many civic organizations and friendships with both whites and blacks) and the power of weak ties (acquaintances of acquaintances) in creating peer pressure that ultimately inspires the community to make changes on their own. The last substantive chapter discusses Duhigg's view on free will (mildly a surprise). Duhigg contrasts a person with a gambling habit (which to some degree seems neurological wiring, gambling addicts are more likely to have reward systems triggered by "near wins" than non-addicts) and a person who murders his wife in his sleep through automationism (a defect where the brain does not properly paralyze the body in sleep and fight or flight responses are still active). Duhigg argues that to an extend both are victims of their habits, but the gambler is aware of the habit, which then becomes their responsibility to fix, while the killer was not aware. Duhigg cites the famous life experiment by the depressed James Williams, who decided to take responsibility for every that happened to him for a year. The book ends with a helpful appendix for applying the lessons of the book.

On some levels, I really do not like this kind of book. Maybe it's part of a subconscious elitism against self-help books, or a contrarian impulse in my personality. Maybe it's just the experience that self-help books do not tend to help me. I found Duhigg better at telling narratives than providing evidence, with somewhat sloppy causal claims and the stretching of one good idea (habit) to cover attenuated subjects. I am however, impressed by the breadth of subjects the book covers, and the interesting stories he tells to explain each simple idea. Additionally, I think the book might actually help others (even if I feel like it does nothing for me), and that's always a reason to like a book, ( )
  vhl219 | Jun 1, 2019 |
What a great story teller! and these stories have been spreading. Every time I talk with someone about this book, they've already heard one of the stories! (Is Mr.Duhigg all over the airwaves or are his stories just re-tellable?)

In light of the recent rebuke of American nuns, I'd like to point out to the bishops that these ladies pop up prophetically in remarkable places, including p.229 in this text. (I misread my notes. The nuns show up earlier; this is a section where the author underestimates the role and power of religious conviction.)

I checked this book out of the library but we just may buy it. Worth reading again, lending out.

p.s. The casino story: horrifying. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg illustrates how the “habit loop” of cue, routine, and reward applies to actions of individuals, companies, and even societies. He talks about how individuals can use this knowledge to change unhelpful habits and start better ones, and how companies can use information about individuals’ habits to be creepy as hell when sending them targeted (pun intended) advertising. And while it may be a bit facile to refer to major social movements for change as “habits”, it can sometimes take only one small action to move a community from resignation to revolution.

This book is illuminating and well written, and the habit loop is a very simple concept that can be applied right away. I myself used it the very day I finished the book. The section about institutional habits and how they organically develop, and how they can be consciously changed, was also interesting. The part about companies using people’s personal information to identify their habits may seem charmingly quaint now, because this book was published in 2012 and the algorithms that figure this stuff out have probably become even more sophisticated in the meantime.

I found out about this book from reading Careful: A User's Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds (Duhigg blurbed that book), so if you liked that one, you might like this one too. I’d also recommend it if you like books such as The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Apr 10, 2019 |
This is a very valuable book. While I did know that habits are important, this book has opened my eyes to thinking about some of my struggles as habits that can be changed.

Duhigg focuses on research, providing a framework to explain habits, not on personal advice - although it does offer a general plan outline in the appendix on how to construct your own plan to change habits.

The first three chapters explain the habit loop: cue, routine, and reward. We learn that to change bad habits, we can substitute the routine, but the cue and reward must stay the same. Successful change also involves belief and the support from a community. Keystone habits are habits that can launch major changes - for example, people who quit smoking or start exercising soon ake other healthier changes in their lives, too. I just basically summarized the book.

The personal applications of habits were all relevant, so were the organizational habits. However, the bit about Rosa Parks and the civil right's movement was stretching the definition of habit - it was about how a social movement is triggered and spreads. I was also frustrated about the willpower experiments. The cookie experiment did not test willpower - it was testing how people react when they are frustrated!! In other words, there were some interesting tidbits that applied the word "habit" or "willpower" to something that was only loosely related.

The writing style is formulaic and somewhat dry and repetitive. It reads like a few ideas were expanded into a full length book. The ideas are worthwhile, though, and the case studies are interesting enough to keep reading, even if they are less and less relevant. Reading those is optional. Read the appendix, though, if you are interested in launching your own investigation into your habits and how to change them.

Overall, a thought provoking book that might launch changes in one's life if they are primed for one. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
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Book description
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.

Marketeers at Proctor & Gamble study videos of people making their beds.  The are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, which is on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history,  Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern -- and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America.  His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees -- how they approach worker safety -- and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common?   They achieved success by focussing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded in transforming habits.

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changes.   With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight.  We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains.  We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr.   We go inside Proctor & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation's largest hospitals to see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren't destiny.  As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our business, our communities, and our lives.  [from the jacket]
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Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.

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