The book that I chose is called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. Habits are something that we demonstrate every day right when we wake up for the day. Sometimes, these habits can seem like it is just decision making, but it is not actually. Chapter 1 in the book tells a story about a man named Eugene Pauly. Eugene lost his memory but was still able to form new habits. Charles explains that habits are not our destinies. These habits can be changed, ignored or replaced. It is also important to understand how habits work because it makes them easier to control. The habit loop is important to be familiar with. The habit loop is a three step process and it is important because it demonstrates that when a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.
Chapter 3 in the book talks about the “golden rule.” This states that we can never fully eliminate our habits, but we can change them. With the golden rule of habit change, Duhigg talks about keeping the same cues and rewards, but changing the routine. For example, if someone were to try to quit smoking, they can replace the actual cigarette with nicotine gum.
My favorite part of the book was chapter 9 titled, “The Neurology of Free Will.” There is a section in this chapter that I found really interesting. It is about a man named Brian Thomas who called 911 saying that he thinks he killed his own wife. Brian and his wife were asleep when he woke up in the middle of the night and found a man on top of his wife. In order to protect her he started attacking the man. He was choking the man until he eventually realized that it was his wife that he was choking. Brian was obviously extremely upset by all of this and called 911 right away. Brian has a history of sleepwalking a lot when he was a child. He would walk into other rooms and even the yard. It got to the point that neighbors would question his mom and ask why he would be out in the yard in the middle of the night. This was a habit that started for him as a child. After the police investigated, it was known that he and his wife had a very healthy and happy relationship.
Another situation that really stuck out to me and reminded me of the class was Angie Bachmann's story. Angie ended up becoming really into gambling and would gain a lot of money, but also lose a lot. She ended up going to gamble all the time and it became a habit of hers. She relied on gambling to help her feel good about something. Instantly, I started thinking about how her story can relate to self control. Self control is not an issue of willpower, but an issue of conflicting outcomes. We could also say that these habits of Angie's are also very impulsive. She would use gambling as a way to help her cope if she got into a fight with her husband, or felt unappreciated by her kids. She would do this instantly without even thinking about what the consequences of her gambling could cause. Even after trying to get help, she ended up losing even more money, which also affected her husband's life as well. We could also relate her story to reinforcers. If she was winning a lot of money and finally felt good about something, then her behavior would increase. Overall, Angie’s addiction was affecting many different parts of her life, including her relationships with her husband and kids, and it was also affecting her bank account badly.
Experiencing habits is something that everyone experiences every day no matter what. We can see people with habits in the real world all the time. Our habits can impact our work life and how productive and effective we are. These could be either good or bad. For example, someone could have a habit at work where they prepare for time management and may prioritize different tasks. This could definitely help someone stay organized and on top of things. We also could see some habits where maybe someone got used to calling out of work all of the time, or maybe they just formed a habit where they are not as productive as they should be.
The video that I have attached was found on YouTube, and it is a great TedTalk by Tali Sharot about how we can motivate ourselves to make changes.