The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg takes us into the minds people with real life research to study exactly why we do what we do, and how habit works on a neurological level. The prologue of the book begins with how this women named Lisa was able to change a keystone habit, which was smoking for her. By changing her keystone habit of smoking she was able to reprogram other routines in her life. Lisa would replace smoking with jogging, in turn, would change how she ate, slept, and worked for the future, and so on. Charles Duhigg calls this process the habit loop, which is a three step process in our brains. First there is a 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. Over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually, a habit is born. When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit, unless you find new routines, the pattern will unfold automatically. Duhigg explains in the book that we need to learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors, if we take control of the habit loop, we can force those bad tendencies into the background. And once someone creates a new pattern, studies have demonstrated, going for a jog or ignoring the doughnuts becomes as automatic as any other habit. In part two of the book, Duhigg talks about the habits of successful organizations, and how willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success. He explains how willpower becomes a habit by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives. Part three talks about the habit of society, through social habits, the power of weak ties, and the habit of peer pressure. This book opens your eyes to change, you are in control of yourself and the change you want to happen. It is a chain reaction, one positive change in your keystone habit will have a positive chain reaction in your life, as well as others around you.
I genuinely enjoyed every part of this book, the entire book is a chain reaction in a link. This book helped me to understand the bigger picture, which is to change the routine and leave everything else the same. The most interesting case study in my opinion is chapter nine. The author tells the story of a man, who killed his wife while he was asleep. The phenomena is called sleep terror, which is different from sleepwalking in the sense that people experiencing a sleep terror are not even dreaming, their brains are completely shut down except for the most primal part, which governs their behavior. They have no chance for conscious intervention and will act and react according to what their primal brains tell them to do whether it be fleeing from a perceived danger or protecting a loved one by killing an imagined intruder. Which is what the man in question thought he had done, but in fact he killed his own wife. The jury let him off with the reasoning that he didn’t choose to kill and had no chance of preventing the murder. Apparently, more than 100 people who committed a similar crime have been let off for the same reason.Then the author tells the story of a woman, who squandered her inheritance gambling, and raises the question why the gambler should be held responsible for her actions if the murderer is not. The book compares these two cases and notes the similarities in both in terms of automating the brain. However, one key distinction between the two is made; the gambler could reasonably have predicted the outcome of her habit. The sleep terror case he could not, because despite having suffered from sleep terror all his life, he had never had a sleep terror previously where he had endangered his own, hers or anyone else’s life. Therefore not reasonable to suggest it could have been predicted, nor reasonable to suggest he be held responsible for the crime. However, the book concludes by suggesting that aside from a sleep-walking murderer’s actions, our lives are filled with habits that we do know exist. And once we understand that habits can change, then we have the freedom and the responsibility to change them.
This class has talked about a range of motivations such as impulse, self-control, rewards, drugs, and incentives. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhiggn has touched on every aspect of motivation we have learned. He has explained why we do what we do, why habits have formed, and how we can change them. In this class we have learned about food addiction, drug addiction, self-control and many more. This book puts real life case studies with research to understand how we get into these negative routines, and ways to change.
My Favorite Quotes from the Book:
- “Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.”
- “Change might not be fast and it isn't always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
- “Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
This book is a great read for anyone, everyone has something in their life that they want to change and this book gives you the steps that are proven to work. I now have began to cut out dairy from my diet and can already see a difference with my skin and stomach, which has gotten me to feel more confident to go out and do activities. This has started a chain reaction within myself.
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