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Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick
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Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  711 ratings  ·  116 reviews
A landmark book about how we form habits, and what we can do with this knowledge to make positive change

We spend a shocking 43 percent of our day doing things without thinking about them. That means that almost half of our actions aren't conscious choices but the result of our non-conscious mind nudging our body to act along learned behaviors. How we respond to the people
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jesse Kane Yes and no!
According to this book, all of our practices become embedded neural pathways in the brain that cannot be overwritten. Instead, the answer…more
Yes and no!
According to this book, all of our practices become embedded neural pathways in the brain that cannot be overwritten. Instead, the answer to combating bad habits is to create new habits that are more powerful than the old ones. Thankfully, many of the habits we form are fragile and easy to work around.(less)

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Michelle Arredondo
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been on a kick for these kind of books lately but sometimes it can get difficult to read anything non-fiction. Sometimes it is why I hesitate to spend the money and worry that I am going to get bogged down with a lot of jargon I don't understand and techniques that are not practical. NOT THE CASE WITH THIS BOOK. This book explores the Science behind positive habits that stick and what it does for you to eliminate bad habits. Author Wendy Wood has done her research and has shared all that ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I appreciated the science behind this book, it was explained and laid out clearly. The one concept that I'd never heard of before and will try to incorporate in my life is friction. It was best illustrated by the cooking example. If you want to learn a new recipe the best way to do that is to have everything needed prepared before starting the recipe, ingredients, tools, pans ect after that then you can just concentrate on the recipe. This would be easy to use in many aspects of life.
Dasha Slepenkina
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-reads
A big thank-you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for giving me a copy of this book for an unbiased review.

Rating: 3.5/5, rounded up to 4 - Thoroughly enjoyed it, although I do wish that it had been more concise.

This is the book to read if you want to learn everything there is to know about habits.

And I mean everything.

Wood goes into great detail on what distinguishes a habit from conscious cognition, how the neurology of habit formation differs from that of active choice, why our
Deedi (DeediReads) Brown
All my reviews live at

I read this book as part of my subscription to The Next Big Idea Club, which is a quarterly book subscription of new big idea nonfiction titles curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink. So, while I was nervous that would be yet another book about building habits (that should probably have just been a TED Talk), I decided to give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised that this book did NOT feel like so many others
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting way to think about habits and their formation. I enjoyed all the various studies that were sited as support for the authors theories. I also liked the way the book was laid out - easy to read, digest and understand. Now I'll see if I can make these "positive changes" stick! The approach is solid and my willpower is terrible, so I'm optimistic and excited to try making changes to context and friction for the positive habits I'm trying to adopt.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is jam-packed with facts from a multitude of studies. Ms. Wood has researched habits and left no stone un-turned. It makes sense that we keep good habits when they are easier and no longer require thought. The first step in acquiring new habits seems to be the most difficult because we really need to think it over and anticipate any hurdles we may need to overcome in order to continue the new habit. Working out, ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Although I appreciate the author's expertise and experience, the book is too research oriented to capture my continuing interest and most likely that of the general public. There are several excellent points raised in the book that would stand out better if many of the statistics and studies were instead placed in the back reference section. Then, the true messages and findings would shine! I realize, however, it would make for quite a large reference which is already a bit hefty. I enjoyed the ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm nearly done reading this amazing book. I plan on reading it again. I've learned so much throughout each chapter. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to change their life. I'm on a mission now...
Aaron Mikulsky
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this almost as much as James Clear's Atomic Habits. Here are a few of my random notes:
Mark Twain said, Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples habits.
Our own behavior springs from some of the most mysterious, deeply hidden, and unrecognized sources of irrationality.
Excuse making is a talent at which our conscious minds excel.
The food industry has been investing in hyperstimulating foods with the power to keep us eating. Scientists have devised ways to get you to eat more than you
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is Non Fiction and it is exactly what the title says it is. I liked the science behind the author's research. A person's habits can overrule reason and logic and go directly against sensible goals that one may have. Wow...the power of habits. She also presented it in understandable chunks. I listened to the audio and it made for an interesting listen for my afternoon. I gave this 3 stars because I did like it, but it wasn't anything I haven't heard before. It was a good a reminder on how if ...more
Jan 13, 2020 added it
Such a new year book. Ha ha. I got what I needed - a couple of techniques for making or breaking behaviour. Very useful. I didn't really need the lite scientific studies weakly propping up the techniques, they were unnecessary. As far as self-help books go, the author had a good tone, not too annoying.
Amy Sue
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for someone to give you a numbered list of exactly what to do to become a true person of *good* habit, you will not find such a list in this book. Good Habits, Bad Habits provided an organized and highly readable listing of the science around habits. I loved reading these studies and almost immediately started inserting them into small talk conversation. In addition to providing me with cocktail chatter for months to come, this book also helped me recognize moments when I'm ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I really liked this book but at the same time it was a bit frustrating. The author illustrates hundreds of interesting studies that prove her point. It's unbelievable how much the power of habit controls our lives. And she proved to me that diets don't work, and worse that we always blame ourselves when a diet fails, pointing to our own lack of self control and weak willpower. Yet it's not our own willpower that failed us---it's the diet that failed us. There is a lot of money and resources that ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading books that offer developmental tips and advice on a more personal level. Many times, it seems like some of it could be common sense, but seeing it on paper really brings it to the forefront of your mind. Additionally, we can all start positive habits, but making sure we consistently put this into practice and making it stick usually becomes a challenge. Wood really dives into the science of how to make lasting positive changes and provides a wealth of personal and ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received an ARC as a GoodReads giveaway. I really enjoyed this book, and I'll probably reread sections of it. It's easy to read and engaging, and includes lots of anecdotes that make it relatable. It discussed many experiments and scientific reports but didn't get bogged down in statistics. I learned a lot about the conditions that go into forming and maintaining habits, and understanding them can also help in finding ways to break bad habits. I kind of wish there was a summary/checklist of the ...more
Edward Dwyer
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some or most of the ways to change your habits are kinda common knowledge, but just the act of reading it backed with evidence, research, etc. coerces you more to put those things in action (or inaction). Best giveaway I've gotten yet and quite possibly best self-help book I've read. Also, one needs to pair reading this book with possibly using apps that will help you along with adding or deleting habits.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is filled with so much information I thought my head would explode. Kidding. It was beneficial information and there were lots of real time examples, which I thought was really helpful. I'm not sure if it's helped me just yet, but I'm working on implementing changes to get rid of some not so great habits. The images in the book aren't very accurate and I don't think they add anything to the book.
Lindsay Nixon
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you're looking for help changing your habits (eg actionable things you can do) this is not the book for you.

If you're looking for a book that summarizes several studies and how they were performed, you might like this book. I usually like when authors provide examples from studies to prove a point they're making, but that's not what happens here... it's more of a dossier or a resume/summary of Wood's work for the past year. Overall I found it mostly boring without strong conclusions or
Sandra Park
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read about how we form habits and what makes habits stick. You can use this information to form new good habits or to change habits that don't work for you. Some habits are benign but hold you back from making positive changes. When something is a habit, then you don't see other ways of doing that thing that might be even better. Kind of like getting stuck in a rut.

If you are curious about how habits work, this book is for you. It has some practical advice but is not as
Mitch Olson
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you want to change your habits then dont bother asking a scientist. Much better to read the book of a practitioner like James Clear.

All of these habit change gurus are following in the footsteps of BF Skinner who knew lots about training pigeons but fucking nothing about human beings.
Teri Temme
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved learning what makes a habit a habit. I won't spoil it - read the book!
Only 236 actual pages.
I read the first third diligently and then started skimming. Things that matter for habit formation are context, repetition, and reward (except not really, think irregular rewards like a slot machine).

Also, friction. Making things that you don't want to do more difficult (put candy in an opaque jar across the room, for example, to reduce mindless snacking) and things that you want to do more easy/obvious (sleep in your workout clothes to facilitate morning exercise).

Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nbic-books
Having read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and more recently, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, I was skeptical that there was much more I could discover about habit and motivation by reading another book. I was wrong. Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood is an insightful exploration of science behind how and why habits form, ...more
John B.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 Stars: This interesting book sheds light on the complexity of our "operating system". The mind-body system that makes up who we are is very complex. Behavior is not just a simple matter of running an executive control function and voila! our behavior changes. Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that telling yourself you will eat differently is not sufficient to change the way you eat. This might work temporarily, but for long term behavior the mind-body interaction is more complex and ...more
Kaitlynn Cassady
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
If we spent time together while I was reading this, I was probably simultaneously complaining and telling you all about what I had read. I did not hate this book. Its just that books like this arent exactly my cup of tea. But I was interested in what Wendy Wood potentially had to say on habits so I read it. There were definitely times I had to power through because it felt like she was talking in circles. But other moments were really interesting and insightful. Plus, I think all of us could ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-list
Why is it easy to make that initial decision to change, and even to start to do some of the right thingsbut difficult to persist in the longer term? Wendy Wood poses this question and, really, she got my attention.

Woods book, Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2019), is more than just popular self-help with a side of convenient science. Wood is a behavioral scientist and has been researching and seeking the answer to this
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a science book about habits from a foremost expert. It is a heavier read than some of the pop psychology or sociology books on habits that are out there. But, if you stick with it, the rewards are greater as the information is ultimately more useful.

The things I am taking away from this book are the importance of context and friction when it comes to habit formation and change.

Our context matters. The environment around us effects our behaviour. If we struggle with overeating, there are
Two Readers in Love
Your conscious mind gets more credit than it deserves. In this book we see studies that suggest that people who have good habits don't necessarily have more willpower, they have created a life where there is less conscious temptation because they zoom right past it on autopilot.

For example, whenever I have a chance, I read; I don't spend time debating with myself whether to watch reality TV or open a book. My reading habit was instilled so strongly and from such a young age, there is no
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well-researched book that takes a scientific look at what drives habits, taking on the idea that all it takes is willpower and self-control.

Some ideas that I found interesting and worth trying to implement in daily life: behavior is a function of the person+environment, we actively engage with that which is right in front of us and overlook what's further away, we tend to overlook the influence of surroundings on our daily choices; that by changing the context (environment) of one's life, good
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Its nice to read a self-help style book (though thats not all it is and dont let that keep anyone away from reading it) written by an actual expert. She quoted so many studies, and I enjoyed hearing some of the background to the studies she had worked on as well as her professional opinions on portrayals if the studies in popular media. I think the book may be too long, but I enjoyed reading it all. I say it may be too long because at times the tangents take over her ...more
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Wendy Wood is the author of the new book Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick. Wood also teaches ps...
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“They have a set pattern, and they follow it. They are not making decisions. Here’s the very happy implication: the worst, most effortful run will be that first one. Or the second, perhaps. But effort doesn’t last (in fact, if it does, you’re doing it wrong). Habits will form and take the effort off your hands.” 0 likes
“It was something they did without thinking. They had formed meditation habits. High “self-controllers” achieved desired outcomes by streamlining, not struggling.” 0 likes
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