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Kate’s Bookshelf: The Power of Habit

Written by Kate • March 20, 2012 •
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Power of Habit

Power of Habit

Taking a cue from the fab Martha Beck, I’ve created a new type of blog in which I review my current reading list. I am reading the Power of Habit which is a mindbogglingly interesting book about the neuroscience of habit.  Charles Duhigg, the author, is a reporter who became interested in habits when he came across a US officer in Iraq who was able to create new behavior patterns within a city he was assigned to by analyzing the habits of crowds and then creating new habits so that crowds were effectively not able to form because of the city’s new habits.

Duhigg first takes us through the mechanics of habit creation in which the cue, routine, and reward loop are created and enforced until a craving is created. This habit loop helps us brush our teeth each day, exercise, go to be on time, get things accomplished as well as lounge in front of the TV, gamble/drink/eat too much, and other unfortunate habit loops.

The book covers personal habit formation as well as the habits of organization. Examples given of successfully changing habits for the better include Paul O’Neill’s tenure at ALCOA, the civil rights movement, the creation of Starbuck, Rick Warren’s history, and more. It’s an easy, well written read that is fascinating and easy to plow through*.

The real reason I love it is that is has shown me that rather than being without willpower in some areas of my life, I  just have habits that I can change through rewiring the cue/routine/reward loop. It may not be simple but it certainly feels like it’s something that I can accomplish.

*Technically, I bought the unabridged audible.com version of the book. I thought the narrator had a clear and excellent delivery style but was the cheesiest of cheesemeisters when it came to dialogue. For me, knowing that he was consistently cheesy during each dialogue made me smile at his earnestness.

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