The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg | Review

 

Pages: 375

Genre: nonfiction, psychology

 

Synopsis

The official synopsis of this book should be reworked, it makes it sound three times more boring than the book actually is. So here it is in short –

There’s many areas in your life habits show themselves. It’s shown that people that changed patterns, habits, in their lives for the better also fudementally changed patterns in their brain. Marketing people study people’s habits and use psychology to sell new or more effective products and develop advertising, manipulating you. Habits at work and how to make more effective and safer employers. In general people bettering something by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives – transforming habits. Why is some able to change more easily than others? What parts do habits play in Olympic successes, social movements and CEO’s? What are unhealthy habits and what effects can they have?

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.”

The Audiobook

The narrator’s voice is a bit annoying, something about the ups and downs as he talks. I played it at 1.2 to 1.5x speed and it went fine. The biggest downside is that there’s a lot of passages and tips in here that you’re going to want to mark down, which is more diffcult without any visual copy.

My thoughts

“Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.”

Rating out of five: four

fire

I’ve read some bullshit productivity book, but not many good ones, which I realized a couple chapters into this one. In short, this book gave me a different view of habits, even though I had put some research into them already. In the beginning I was a bit disheartened, as it was mostly things I knew, but then it picked up and got more in depth.

Not everything in this book is equally compelling. I thought first that it might be my stage in life – I’m a student, not a business-owner – but it seems like more reviewers agree to this. My biggest issue with the writing is that the author wants to turn everything into a habit to justify the title and theme. Why couldn’t he just reconcile with some of the things he’s discussing being different types of behaviour and spare me from automatically counting the amount of “habits” said in a chapter. It’s a part of the bigger picture in that the author needs to always be painfully clear and repeats things like he’s certain the reader is dumb.

It’s a lot of good things and lessons in here, and I’ll get to that later promise, but I also want people to be critical reading this. I’m going to look further into willpower because I know there’s been discussion and questions around of the fact given here that willpower can be used up in the span of a day. Also, I’m not sure if I agree with the views on how social movements and social habits are made and upkept, he’s giving a lot of different components needed, but it sounds off to me.

This book is meant introductory, to make people think about their habits in a different way, that they’re something under their control if they pay them enough attention and work on them. Which is very positive, so of course I recommend this book. I got a couple lessons from it, along with simpler ways to explain what I’ve been knowing already.

A couple things I liked and took from this book:

  • “Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” 
  • His take on the marketing campaigns of big brands and supermarkets and how they dig into and use people’s habits was really interesting – that it has been funded so much it’s almost become its own science
  • Importance of organizational habits
  • The monkey experiments on how cravings are built, watching his brain respond to a task and the reward he got after. And after time when the habit had become ingrained the scans show the reward happens right after the cue (the task), but before the actual reward – he’s anticipating it, which creates a craving for the reward and keeps the habit strong.
  • The story about institutionalized unhealthy habits. In particular hospitals and other high risk jobs where they make checklists because everything needs to be done in order, and how giving nurses the authority to speak up when finding mistakes is important for cutting deaths under operation.
  • Learn from crisis and if the aftermath use them to make sure it doesn’t happen again
  • If you want to go down in weight, generally it helps to make a list of what you eat because it makes you more aware of your habits surrounding it

2 thoughts on “The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg | Review

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