Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Book Report: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

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

| General Overview |

The Power of Habit written by Charles Duhigg, explains in-depth about the ideology of habits. Charles Duhigg supports the ideology of habits through telling the various stories of individual personal life experiences, experimental studies, and successful business organizations. The book is broken up into three parts. Part one is The Habits of Individuals, part two is The Habits of Successful Organizations, and part three is The Habits of Societies. 

The Power of Habit stresses the importance of habits by explaining how they are created, maintained, changed, replaced, ignored and improved. Habits are with us daily and they help us survive as human beings. Your daily morning routine of checking your phone, getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, showering, and preparing for your first meal, are all habits. If you did not have habits, your life would be unorganized and in shambles. The author explains that habits are so essential, because it conserves our brain’s mental energy. For instance, once we get into the groove of continuously performing an act (a routine) when confronted with a specific cue to obtain a reward, our brain goes into an ‘auto pilot mode’ which means that the routine starts to become automatic whenever you are confronted with that cue. Habits allow our brains to rest from thinking and making decisions.  One may see how this can be a downfall, and that downfall is what we consider to be ‘bad habits.’ Habits are with us throughout our entire life, whether we are consciously or unconsciously aware of them. Habits can bring one the most success, but it can also be one’s weakness. Charles Duhigg does a fantastic job with opening up the reader’s mind on how to take control of their own habits. 

| Favorite Part |

My absolute favorite part of the book is in Part One, Chapter Three: The Golden Rule of Habit Change. In this section of the book, Charles Duhigg explains how one can change a habit. He discusses ‘The Golden Rule’ which means in order to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine. The Golden Rule has influenced treatments for alcoholism, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other destructive behaviors. This is my favorite part of the book, because I have been struggling with my weight, poor diet and smoking habit for over a year now. At the beginning of each month, I always write down goals that require a lot of self-discipline, and I repeatedly tell myself how I am going to dedicate myself to those goals in order to get rid of my bad habits, but it never works. I may stick with it for about three days, but by the fourth day I give in. 

Once I read this section of the book, I had an epiphany, it was as if a light bulb turned on in my brain. In the book, Charles Duhigg explains how it is important to recognize the cue that brings on the habit and acknowledge the reward that it gives us in order to change the habit. For example, my cue would be stress, whenever I’m stressed, I smoke (routine) to relieve the stress, and my reward is the euphoria or relaxation that it gives me. Therefore, if I want to change my smoking habit, I have to find another routine that also gives me relaxation or relief whenever I’m feeling stressed, which can be meditation, art, self-pampering, or physical activity. Furthermore, Charles Duhigg states that implementing a new routine is not enough to change a habit, for a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. 



| Related |

One of our Motivation course Lecture Slides, tilted, “Incentives” is related to the concept of a habit loop. In the book, Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes the habit loop as a three-step process in our brain. “First, there is cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.  Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future” (Duhigg, 2014, p. 18). The concepts in a habit loop and incentives are much related, because an incentive is defined as anticipated external stimuli that motivate behavior to occur. Therefore, a cue could also be viewed as the anticipated external stimuli, and the behavior that is motivated to occur could be viewed as the routine. For example, anticipated external stimuli could be the stress you may always feel when an exam is approaching which motivates you to study in order to be prepared. In a habit loop, the stress would be the cue, the routine would be studying, and the reward would be receiving a good grade.  

| Creative |


A video of the author of the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, explaining how habits work and how to change them. 

| Extension | 

Before reading this book, I was in a very bad funk. As I explained earlier, I have been trying to get rid of a lot bad habits of mine for over a year now, but I could never seem to accomplish it. My bad habits provide me with instant satisfaction and immediate gratification, but in the long run it only makes me feel worse than before, and it ends up doing more bad than good.  I knew that in order to get rid of my bad habits, I would have to devote a lot of self-disciple and dedication, but no matter how much I wanted to, there were days when I just gave in. I could never figure out why until I read The Power of Habit. This book gave me so much insight to my underlying issues. It opened up my mind to concepts that I never considered before. Like myself, I believe that this book has the potential to help a lot of individuals who struggle with a range of issues, and not only bad habits. This book can help people cope with prevalent issues that we all experience like depression, anxiety, and stress. After reading this book, I feel much more motivated to dedicate myself to my goals. Since I am now aware of the habit loop, I know what cues to look out for that can trigger my bad habits, I will implement new and healthy routines, and I will believe that change is possible. 

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