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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business | [Charles Duhigg]

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

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Change is hard, or is it? In The Power of Habit, New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg examines just how people and institutions undergo transformation: by changing habits. Narrator Mike Chamberlain (Moonwalking with Einstein) brings just the right mix of objectivity and conviction for a fascinating, life-changing look on how to change. —Diana M.

Publisher's Summary

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern - and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees - how they approach worker safety - and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits.

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.

Along the way, we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals, and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

©2012 Charles Duhigg (P)2012 Random House, Inc.

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  •  
    Mehra Cairo, Egypt 04-22-12
    Mehra Cairo, Egypt 04-22-12 Member Since 2010

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Nice! A guide on how to change"

    At first I was hesitant to buy this book as I have read several self help books like Today Matters, Awaken the Giant Within, etc. And I just didnt want to buy another one as after a couple of books the information in them starts getting repetitive and the truth is if you actually do what is in one book it will be more than enough. The only problem is that we read a lot and do not persist in doing what we learned form the book...or at least thats the case for me.

    But I bough this book anyway as it seemed different and the reviews on it were good. It was worth it.

    In the book, the author talks about habits and how to create new ones and stick to them. He doesn't tell you do this and that to be more productive, rather he tells you how to craete habits and then start doing them naturally without effort or thinking...whatever that habit is. He provides scientific evidence that when an act becomes a habit, your brain does less work to do it!

    He says for a certain action to become a habit, there are three things:
    1. A cue that triggers the action
    2. Repetition: You have to repeat the action everytime the cue happens
    3. Reward: A reward at the end
    And so to change the bad habits that you have, you will not ignore the cue that drove you to that old habit but rather you will act diffrently. In other words, you will satisfy your craving in another way as ignoring it will only solve the problem temporarily and after a while you will go back to your old habits again.
    And so you will keep the cue and the reward but change the routine in the middle....but first you need to see what you were really craving. Was it really that chocolate bar you were craving or were you bored at work and wanted a distraction? If it was boredom, then go and socialize instead. Like this you didn't ignore the cue (boredom) or the reward (getting out of boredom) but you simple replaced the bad habit(chocolate) with a good one (socializing).
    But he then states that usually people create habits and stick to them until a crisis or pressure comes. At that moment, people usually go back to their old habits mainly because they do not believe in the new system or the new habit. And that adds the fourth element of creating a habit which is belief - belief in the habit and in something bigger - like God. Believing that there is a God or that there is a higher power that will take you through this hard times is essential to keep you going on and not falling back. This will be specially usefull in bad habits like drinking.

    He then states that people usually try to change everything at once and thus do that for a little while and then get overwhelmed and return back to all their old habits.
    And so to stick to a habit and change your life, you need to select a key stone habit. A key stone habit is a habit that when you change it, all other habits will automatically change. For example, if you write a daily food journal - just writing what you eat, you have not decided to eat less or anything else - just writing what you eat down will eventually make you watch what you eat and change it. Consequently, by just focusing on this one habit you encourged other habits. However, you will not be overwhelmed by a sudden lot of change.

    He then talks about grit - which is to keep walking towards your goal for years inspite of challenges and obstacles, and regardless of how long it takes you to achieve it. He says that will power and self discipline are the most important factors for success - not IQ or anything else. That will power is a habit too. That it is a muscle that can be excercised, that when you have will power you start to change how you think. That you have to practice focusing on goals, writing plans and identifying simple cues and obvious rewards. For example, you should write a plan on how one would act in a specific situation. Specifically what you would do when things go wrong or get tough.

    He also talks about crisis and how people are more open to change during crisis and that this will be a good opportunity to change social habits.
    As for the ingredients for social habits:
    1. Protest
    2. Peer pressure
    3. Must be self prepelling. People have to be participants and not followers
    He talks a lot more about social habits but that is just a summary

    To sum up he says that to create new habits and to change you have to:
    1. Decide to work hard. As it a lot of hard work and will not come easily.
    2. Identify cue and reward
    3. One has to have self control and be self conscious
    That habits are what you choose them to be. That they are the unthinking choices that we make everyday. By making them visible we can change them.

    Also, he backs up all this by providing examples and scientific evidence.

    455 of 458 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brooke Louisville, KY, United States 03-03-12
    Brooke Louisville, KY, United States 03-03-12

    Choose Joy!

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    "Good, but...."

    Some aspects of this book are great. It is a real discussion of habit, and techniques to change it. The anecdotes get extremely annoying. The author jumps from one story, to another, and then back again. It lacks a summary of the main point of each chapter, which would really help drive things home.

    In one chapter I listened to a discussion of brain surgery and a a blow by blow detail of a big surgical error. This story was then displayed as an example of negative habits.

    That sounds OK in theory, but it took the author twenty minutes to get to the point. I felt like most of the meaning of the book got buried in the examples, and there was no clarification on the meat of the information.

    It's narrated well.

    133 of 141 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Koleen Eatontown, NJ, United States 04-10-12
    Koleen Eatontown, NJ, United States 04-10-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Excellent book on how habits influence us"
    If you could sum up The Power of Habit in three words, what would they be?

    Learn good habits. The author gave a great overview of how habits are formed, how they affect our daily lives and how we can work to change them when they are not good. He offers real life examples of good and bad habits.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Read with feeling, easy to listen to.


    What about Mike Chamberlain’s performance did you like?

    Well paced.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to understand why you repeat behaviors you don't want to or why you fail to do what you want to do, this book can help.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Discovery Bay, CA, United States 04-09-12
    Shannon Discovery Bay, CA, United States 04-09-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating!!"
    Would you listen to The Power of Habit again? Why?

    This book is so informational, interesting and well told it makes me not want to stop listening to it! Understanding how habits are formed and called upon, and used in business has been very valuable!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Power of Habit?

    The Alcoa story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES!


    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loren Bethesda, MD, United States 03-16-12
    Loren Bethesda, MD, United States 03-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting stories, but not all linked to Habits"
    What did you like best about The Power of Habit? What did you like least?

    Good reader, and many interesting stories about persons whose injuries allow a closer examination of those parts of the brain that control habits and other behaviors. And some of the other stories well researched (London Subway Fire, Rosa Parks boycott, etc,) and were interesting.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Charles Duhigg? Why or why not?

    No. This is a collection of stories looking for a theme. In fact, it seems like he had to work hard to find a theme to fit his stories. The longer I read, the thinner the connection.


    Do you think The Power of Habit needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    In the final section, the author sets up a comparison between two individuals (a sleep walker who killed his wife and a gambler who spent all her family's money) and set up a red herring suggesting that habits out of their control forced their actions and they should have been treated equally. The weakness in the argument was so apparent that it was just irritating when he finally came around to make the obvious case that the gambler had many opportunities for intervention and the sleepwalker who acted once. So while I learned some things about habits early in the book and then listened to some interesting stories in the middle, the longer the book went, the more it became obvious that anything in this author's world could be easily explained--and included in--a book about habits.

    90 of 96 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louis Pittsburgh, PA, United States 05-14-12
    Louis Pittsburgh, PA, United States 05-14-12
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    "Not Unabridged: "Using These Ideas" is Missing"

    Why one star? This is not unabridged. The eleven page Appendix, "A Reader's Guide to Using These Ideas" is missing. The Appendix *is* the conclusion, and without it, the book's lessons do not coalesce.

    The performance is strong, if a bit chipper for a morning commute, and Mike Chamberlin is a good companion after a cup of coffee.

    The story is strong. A clear, simple structure, but it may trick readers into skipping parts, especially the last section, in which a pivotal moment in American history is linked to the founding of the MegaChurch (and in the hands of lesser man than Rick Warren, it is a How To for founding a cult). The last chapter stumbles into lumpy epiphanies. One paragraph (p 271) begins, "That, in some ways, the point of the book."

    (And I would have appreciated the Acknowledgements being included. Some can be tedious, like listening to the Best Man after too many drinks, but Duhigg's are genuine and insightful. Further, the endnotes are smart, thorough and enlightening. His expertise as an investigative journalist shines.)

    87 of 93 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 06-20-12
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 06-20-12 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "This Book Became a Habit"

    I originally bypassed this book, pre-judging it as more of the same from various mental health professionals and experts in neuroscience. Then I heard it referenced in an unrelated podcast about the game of Blackjack and my interest was piqued.

    Some of the examples and case studies have frequently appeared in non-fiction and fiction alike, but this book makes use of plenty of other newer and more unusual (at least to me) examples, stories and experiences, and is quite salient on how habit works. I wasn't as interested in the dynamics of habit in groups and I almost put the book down and gave it a rest at the beginning of that section. I kept with it, though and was "hooked by habit" once again.

    Can't add more to what others have said, though agreed, it would have been helpful to have had access to the user guide mentioned by another reviewer. I was not expecting a "how to" book on the methods of change in personal and professional life, so I was not disappointed, and actually I prefer a macro lens in books of this genre, and appreciated the aerial view of the dynamics of change, preferring it to a book on how habits develop and affect the individual in general and me personally. But the latter does get covered anyway and it's a bonus.

    The narration is perfect and I am glad the author was not selected for this reading. That statement is not necessarily applicable to this book and this author as I have never heard his speaking voice but generally, self-narration frequently doesn't work all that well - just personal taste here - and I prefer a neutral voice, a reading by someone who is not necessarily a stakeholder in the book and whose interpretation can be more objective.

    I'm sure I'll give this one another read at some point.

    35 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wes LOVELAND, CO, United States 04-04-12
    Wes LOVELAND, CO, United States 04-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Amazing, insightful, scary"

    Great insight into how habits are formed. And a somewhat disturbing view into how corporate America can suck us in to habitually buying their productcs (burgers & fries, shampoo, gambling, etc.).

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven L. Taylor Toronto, ON Canada 03-14-12
    Steven L. Taylor Toronto, ON Canada 03-14-12 Member Since 2009

    StevenLeonardTaylor.com

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    "Interesting Case Studies on the Power of Thought"
    Would you listen to The Power of Habit again? Why?

    Yes, 'The Power of Habit' is worth another listen as it's dense enough with information I'm sure I missed something.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The narrator, Mike Chamberlain, has a very authentic delivery and one would believe that he has faith in the material.


    Have you listened to any of Mike Chamberlain???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    What insight do you think you???ll apply from The Power of Habit?

    It's fairly straightforward, pay attention to your habits and modify them to serve you better. Piggybacking on to an existing habit is your surest way of succeeding in the altered behaviour.


    Any additional comments?

    'The Power of Habit' is similar to 'Think & Grow Rich' and 'The Secret' but gives case studies from the business world, sports, medicine and other reliable sources.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley West Lebanon, NH, United States 05-21-12
    Ashley West Lebanon, NH, United States 05-21-12
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    "Interesting, not what I was looking for though."

    I expected more self help and less stories. Although the stories are supposed to be examples, the didn't actually cover the lesson on how to change habbits which I was looking for.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
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