Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg

Angela Signore
Professor Berg
5 August 2019

General Overview
This book by Charles Duhigg is separated into three parts, each containing specific subheadings within. The first part focuses on individual habits, the second part focuses on habits that are developed within large companies and organizations, and the final part, part three, focuses on habits that are found within a society and how they affect certain people within certain societies. Within the first part, Duhigg expresses how once individual habits are developed and formed fully, they become routine. In order for this routine to surface, the brain and the individual must engage in the habit loop. The habit loop encompasses cravings, cues, routines, and rewards. Using all of these interchangeably will result in developing long lasting habits. The second part focuses on how large corporations need habits to reach goals, fix crisis and understand the habits of consumers. Duhigg explains that in order for all of this is be obtained, these companies need to use keystone habits, if changed will have an affect on old habits, and "small wins," which helps reach long term goals by conquering smaller goals along the way. The final part, Duhigg focuses on large societal changes that have happened in history such as the Rosa Park incident and the expansion of the Saddleback Church. He explains how without the combination of strong and weak ties, movement such as the Civil rights movement would not have been possible because there would not have been different social classes together. "The Power of Habit" was informative and brings on new thoughts and understandings to its readers.

Favorite Part
My favorite part of this read was when Duhigg was explaining the case study of Eugene Pauly. Eugene was suffering and being treated for a rare case of viral encephalitis. In his case he was was suffering from memory loss and damage to the brain tissue. At that point the doctors knew there was nothing that could be done, so they were treating him with antiviral drugs. After many days in a coma, Eugene woke up unexpectedly and began recovering although his brain scans showed severe damage in the brain tissue. After some time, he returned home but his wife did not find the way he was acting to be normal so she brought him to a memory loss specialist who was Dr. Larry Squire. It just so happened that Dr. Squire had worked on a case similar to this thirty years prior when he was in graduate school. He found that Eugene was able to have conversations about life events that he had expertise in and thats where Dr. Squire began to ask questions about how habits may have influenced him and his ability to have these conversations. In a similar way, Eugene's wife would take him on a walk every day always on the same path. One day Eugene went on this walk on his own and she was afraid that he would not find his way back, but he did. After research Dr. Squire knew that it was not memory that was triggering these actions, but it was the center of the brain called the basil ganglia which is responsible for automatic responses. A habit loop is needed to let the brain know that it is okay for the basil ganglia to do the work. Duhigg explained that this loop has three parts, a cue, a routine, and a reward. He found that this too is how all habits are formed, changed, and understood.

After going back through what we learned in class throughout this semester and trying to link it to this book, I decided that the best topic to link it with is both self- control and reinforcements. Both are needed to form habits and accomplish the habit loop. Being able to have self- control helps keep yourself on task along with being able to understand the cues when they come. Alongside self- control comes the reinforcers. Having reinforcers, such as positive reinforcement are similar to the rewards received at the end of the habit loop. The positive reinforcement it what keeps a person coming back for more, even when they feel they want to break the habit. They remember how good the reward, or reinforcement feels, that they continue on with their habit.

I found this video on the habit loop to be extremely informative and helpful with understanding how it works and how to put it into play into my own life. As a person who struggles with forming habits and sticking by them, I found this video full of information that can help me change my ways. I also included a quick visual to help understand the habit loop before watching the video.

Image result for habit loop

Reading this book was a new and refreshing way to understand the way that habits work on all different levels. Personally, I never thought of habits on any other level then a personal level, nor did I know all of the psychology around habits until reading this book. I have always had a problem with forming habits and keeping them, especially when it comes to healthy eating and fitness. Learning about the habit loop can help me and also encourage me to help others reach their goals by forming good habits of their own.

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