Robert Chapman's Reviews > The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
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's review
Sep 14, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: personal-development
Read in March, 2012 — I own a copy

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.
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02/15 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Annie thank you - very nice review!

message 2: by Keats (new) - added it

Keats Snideman Yes, nice and very informative review!

Bernadette Bustillos I agree completely as I just finishhed reading it

Jason I'm not sure if I need to read the book now given your review summarizes and validates two other reviews! Thank you. :)

message 5: by Fransiscus (new) - added it

Fransiscus Xaverius @Jason: sure you need to read it by yourself. There are so many explanation that you'll find interesting.

message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I'm not very far into this book and he already got wrong what "Chunking" is and confused the brain's cortex with the neocortex, making the ridiculous claim that simpler animals don't have a cortex / outer layer of brain! I'd rather read a book by someone who did enough research to at least be equal to a first year psychology student. He clearly didn't make a habit of studying, research, or fact checking, so I don't feel like reading his book.

Ahmed Al sanhani Great review. I really like as it gives pretty nice summary of the main point of the book.

message 8: by Nuato (new) - added it

Nuato I just starting to read it is hop is good for me to learn new thing.

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