Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

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

Charles Duhigg

400 pages

Published in 2012 by Random House

Source: Public Library

We all have habits. Some habits are good, like putting our keys in the same place every day, while other habits like overeating, are ones we wish we could get rid of. It’s the beginning of the year and many of us are trying to swear off our worst habits. After reading The Power of Habit, I’ve learned that deciding not to indulge in bad habits isn’t enough. While you need to do a lot more, there is hope.

When I initially picked up The Power of Habit, I thought it was a self-help book. Fortunately, it’s even better than that. Journalist Charles Duhigg brings together some of the most known and current psychological data to illustrate how easy it is to create habits but how hard it can be to change them or get rid of them altogether.

Duhigg reveals that every habit has a loop: cue, routine, and reward. For example, I have a habit of turning my computer first thing every morning. It’s not the morning routine that I want to have. I would rather do something productive in those hours while everyone is still asleep. Cues can be anything: a time of day, being around particular people, or even an emotion. My cue is that it’s morning. My routine is turning on my computer and checking my email. My reward: I guess knowing what’s going on online. According to the experts that Duhigg has consulted, if you change your routine, often you can change the habit. So I’ve been spending the past two weeks trying to change my routine. Instead of turning on my computer, I’ve been reading instead. I’m not at the point where my new routine is habit, but I love the feeling of having read x amount of pages without trying to cram in reading later on when my day is busy.

People aren’t the only ones with bad habits. Companies have institutional habits that can help or hinder profits. Starbucks, the Aluminum Company of America, and Rhode Island Hospital are among some of the examples given by the author on how institutional habits are often only changed in times of crisis. The disturbing thing to me was that in these times of crisis, some innocent person dies. But even companies can change and when they do, everyone wins.

Included in the book is a huge section of notes, in case you wanted to look something up in more detail and an appendix to help you change those bad habits. I learned a lot reading The Power of Habit and realized change is possible. My rating: five out of five stars.

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27 thoughts on “Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

  1. I think this was an excellent and timely review. I would be interested in reading it and seeing what I think, because Lord knows there are many habits that I wish I could break, and the fact that there is a lot of science behind the behavior really intrigues me. I need to get this!!

  2. I had this out from the library last year but had to return it unread as I ran out of time. I’m looking forward to trying again this year. Glad to hear it’s worth the read!

  3. Sounds very interesting and the perfect book to read just as we are all making our resolutions for the new year.

  4. Glad to read your positive review on this one. I was pondering on whether I wanted to purchase it or not because I know its one that will take lots of musing over and I would not be able to keep a library copy long enough.

  5. Wow…I’ve seen this book a lot but never really knew what it was about!! This sounds really good!! Might have to check it out!

  6. Definitely a great review for the first of the year. I loved how he really did go into the science of it all and then, at the end, did a bit of the self-help information that we all wanted after reading the research.

  7. I almost bought this book the other day! Looks like an interesting read, especially for the new year. I just picked up You Are Not So Smart (2011) which appears to have a somewhat similar topic but is focused on procrastination (I think).

    1. Terri, You are Not so Smart is a really good book. It’s not just about procrastination but also discusses things like self-handicapping and confirmation bias. I hope you enjoy it. :-)

  8. I have been looking at this book and this is the first review I have read on it. Looks like a great read. I am trying to break a few eating related habits. Maybe I should add this to my TBR list.

  9. I am really curious about this book. I have wanted to read it since it came out, but just haven’t had a chance. I even had it out from the library before… Hopefully this year! Glad you liked it!

  10. Great book to review at the beginning of a new year! I’ve been seeing this book a lot and now I know that it’s really worth reading. Thanks for the review!

  11. I have had this one in my queue to listen to for months and can’t believe i haven’t taken the time to do so yet! will change that this evening! thanks for the glowing review!

  12. This does sound quite interesting. I’m absolutely sure that there are a few habits that I would love to change :) And I must agree that this is quite the timely review with everyone working on making changes and new resolutions. Thanks for sharing!

  13. One of my teammates was reading this book before Christmas vacation, and he loved it also. I don’t normally read nonfiction, but this book has been on my radar (much like Susan Cain’s book Quiet which I actually own). Thanks for a great review, for who doesn’t have a few habits which need tweaking? Well, maybe not you…I speak solely for myself!

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