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Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick
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Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,202 ratings  ·  227 reviews
Say you want to start going to the gym or practicing a musical instrument. How long should it take before you stop having to force it and start doing it automatically?

The surprising answers are found in Making Habits, Breaking Habits, a psychologist's popular examination of one of the most powerful and under-appreciated processes in the mind. Although people like to think
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published December 25th 2012)
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Vinayak Joshi You will not get a step-by-step guide, but you will definitely get a good workable principle which allows you to make your own plan on how to make or …moreYou will not get a step-by-step guide, but you will definitely get a good workable principle which allows you to make your own plan on how to make or break a habit. Definitely this book can help.(less)

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Things I learned, with my notes in parenthesis:

Habits are often formed not from intention, but from sheer repetition of the first coincidental occurrence, for instance driving a specific route. (Just another reason to be intentional in every action we do, especially new ones.)

Friendships are mostly activity-based, not attitude-based. Therefore, your habits create your social circles and the extent of your socializing. (So join some clubs and get some friends!)

Habits are contextual. (So to break
Adam Crossley
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while you come across a book that changes your life. This is one of those books.

It calmly and clearly lays out what research says about habits and then systematically explains how to incorporate this research into improving your life. I found several gems that I immediately incorporated into how I operate.

In particular the section about recognizing what cues will prompt you to break your habit and creating "if...then..." statements that prepare yourself to respond to that cue in
Troy Blackford
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting book. Written by a psychologist, it looks at how people form and reshape habits, without the rose-colored glasses of a self-help book. By not sugar coating the truth about how the human mind actually works while carrying out habitual activities, and how difficult it is to create new habits and get disentangled from old ones, it gives you information you can actually use instead of platitudes and feel-good advice that won't work.

In addition, it's always interesting to hear
Alicia Groscost
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy reading about habits and this was no exception. A great mythbuster about the old 21 days to creating new habits. Sorry, all! It taken much longer then that.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not particularly well written. A better editor could have helped smooth out a number of instances of odd sentence structure and word choices (and no, this criticism is not due to the author being British). The same ground was much better covered in the book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. ...more
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Solid information presented clearly. I especially liked the bits about smartphones, Twitter, and Facebook. In my own life, I have some concerns about my behaviour around these things. The images of rat pressing levers for random, unpredictable rewards resonated in my own rodent-like brain. I also like how Dean presented some strategies for keeping habitual behaviours fresh, and how planning can be helpful. I hope I can put some of these tricks to work and stop pressing the Facebook treat lever o ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a word- Yes! This book has all of the latest research and delivers it in a useful way. I think it's a good follower for Willpower Instinct and Now Habit. It makes MasterMind:How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes look really bad. It's less technical than Duhigg's Power of Habit and way less annoying than coach Meg on Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm getting a little tired of books that tell you why you do bad things but don't tell you how not to do those things, and I have absolutely no patience for books that do the opposite. This book is a nice combination of both of those. Does that make any sense? No? Ok. ...more
Sharon Burgin
The author of this book, Jeremy Dean, is a psychologist which would make you think that this would be very scientific and theoretical, written in language to confuse the lay person. But that is not the case. Although this is a well-referenced book, backed up by a multitude of studies, it is also a very well-written, thoughtfully-constructed book which is not dry in the slightest. Sprinkled with witticisms it brings a smile to your face when you recognise the situations he is describing.

Dean expl
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: happiness
This is a very readable overview to the current thinking. There is nothing novel here, but it seems very sound and agrees with other accounts I have read. I love that it is not a motivational book. The sections on how to make changes stick are slim, but they are really all you need.
Lauren - SERIESous Books
not really what I thought this book was going to be but informative nonetheless
full review to come
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading about the research done to learn about habits. Some of the advice in this book is common advice we've all heard before, but their is a lot of good tips in this book. ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were enough interesting studies about habits to keep going but the book bogged down in parts. The last third of the book had practical advice but I don't think i learned anything life changing that I will use to affect my own habits. ...more
Andrew Brady
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Meh self-help book. Ok science / phycology article review book.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Making habits, Breaking habits

"WOOP" exercise: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan:

Write down your wish: the habit you want to achieve; then the best Outcome of your habit; then, the Obstacle(s) you are likely to face. Finally, you make a specific type of Plan called an implementation intention.

Implementation intention (If-then link):
Instead of saying "I want to to be fitter/I want to be kinder", say: "If I'm about to get in the car for a short trip, then I should walk" or "If I see someone struggl
Andrea James
The first two-thirds of the book has a lot of the usual behavioural economics/psychology descriptions of experiments and explanations of why we behave the way we do. If you're completely new to the subject, then it's petty interesting and the author has a readable blog-style of writing.

The last third of the book is the most useful as the author gets more specific about what we can do to break habits and also to create new ones, He points out the common pitfalls and suggests ways that we can avoi
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pop-science book on how brains work in regards to habits. Interesting at points, but also if you want to use it to learn concrete steps you should to take to give you a better chance of implementing new habits, you better get a pad and paper out.

I don't know what the in-print book looks like, the the audiobook doesn't give you the impression that the print version is organized in a bullet point format, or in that is easy for browsing and ear-marking helpful points, once you've read th
Eric Montag
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The book was good. It gives some practical ideas that are backed up by science regarding how to start habits or discontinue habits. However, as interesting as the book was, I always seem to find that books of this sort are too long and this one was no exception. My advice would be to read the chapters that interest you and skip the ones that don't. ...more
Alicia Anderson
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it
It read like a truly scientific, reputable psychology book. That is to say, it's a little slow, and actionable takeaways are buried under test results. I was able to create a habit changing action plan that I'm confident in, but it required a lot of work on my part to get there. ...more
Jennifer Louden
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
3+ stars.

Very good overview of current habit research. Would have benefited from better book design to call out the actual actions to take, and also from more examples and stories.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It used to be widely accepted that ulcers were totally psychosomatic. It was also the "truth" that once someone has a stroke, they're broken for the rest of their life. (I know someone who had a stroke a couple of years ago, and now the only evidence that he's had a stroke is he's now blind in one eye; he's back to work and doing everything else he was doing before.)

And now, courtesy of this book, the author debunks Sigmund Freud's theory that we can know what's in our subconscious. He cites sev
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
So, this book is pushed as a self help, but it is really pop-sci.
The first half is about habits and habit formation. The next quarter is a bit more practical in approach, and you could probably apply it to your life. The last quarter is about creative thinking and is a bit out of place in the book, but still entertaining.
Hot take: people are a hot mess of self justification. We do things without thinking about it, then come back later to give reason and excuse for our behavior. This is perfectl
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened-to
You know I'm crazy about nonfiction, right? I have given myself a break from self-help because I have found that my brain is saturated in that realm. I guess I have found shame in my inability to be different based on all the knowledge I have. But this book opened me up to the possibility that I am NOT flawed. Just my HABITS are flawed. Ha, I can find a solution to that! I loved it. I wish I had the hard copy so I could write a few notes down, but I loved learning the basics of habits and how ha ...more
Cliff Chew
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Being a book about habits, I definitely will have to compare this with another, most probably even more famous, book called "The Power of Habit". Both books cover very similar points, which is good to reinforce your knowledge on the concepts of habits. This book focuses more on explanations, while "Power" has more focus on actually working on your habits. Nice stories, but they are mostly stuff that you have covered if you have read "Power". At least that is my opinion.

I think both books are no
Roxanna Rivas
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I like that he includes examples from case studies and sources you can research. Different from most "self-help" books that generally just work off motivational words/phrases or talk mostly about "being in tune with the universe". Not knocking on those books, sometimes you need that type of motivation, but reading this made me feel more like I was actually starting to learn some thing and was a great introduction into different philosophies. Be aware the book does say it's about WHY we do/don't ...more
Heather Gordon
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I thought the book made some good points, but it was overall very redundant and could have easily been summarized in a couple paragraphs. There were many cited studies which helped contribute to the points being made, but were often only briefly mentioned. I wish the author had expanded further on the techniques of making and breaking habits rather than just giving examples of people experiencing success or failure. Some may learn best that way, but I prefer books like this to elaborate on the s ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Agnes Velez
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have a hard time sticking to the things that I learned and that I know will work because I am so stuck in my old ways. Reading this book reminded me of things that I knew and some new things I didn't know that I feel will help create new habits for me and help me kick the old bad ones I so desperately need to stop. This is a great read and I will read it over and over to use as a go-to for reminders with all my highlights. ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really a good book. I believe this book should be a must have as it explains the way we justify our lives/habits. We mostly act out of how we've acted before and how we act is a habit. It addresses the big questions of obtaining more happiness, better health and more creativity. This book provides methods for changing our habits but mostly explains how and why habits exist. ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Its a well written books with great examples and concrete research backing up its points.
The book did not have a great emphasis on the "how part" when it comes to breaking and making new habits (only two chapters where dedicated for these two points). However, the reader can glean the main points of the book and absorb its cardinal ideas by a careful and focused read.
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Jeremy Dean has two advanced degrees in psychology and is currently a psychology researcher at University College London. He is author of the acclaimed website 'PsyBlog', which describes scientific research into how the mind works. ...more

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Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
29 likes · 2 comments
“The true aim of personal change is to turn our minds away from miracle cures and quick fixes, and adopt a long-term strategy. Habit change isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. The right mindset is to wake up tomorrow almost exactly the same person, except for one small change—a small change that you can replicate every day until you don’t notice it anymore, at which point it’s time to plan another small change” 4 likes
“Families that have established good, predictable routines tend to be happier, with both parents and children being better adjusted.” 2 likes
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