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.
A rule of thumb about attending conferences is that if you come back with at least one good idea, it was probably worthwhile to invest your time.
I feel the same way about this book. Divide the number of pages by three and you probably have the ideal length for the material presented. However, the core premise is sound and the supporting stories are generally interesting. (Exception: The Tampa Bay Bucs example just didn't fit, no matter how hard the author tried to pound that square peg into a round hole.)
Bottom line: It's a so-so read, but worth slogging through.
Good books and peaceful days...
I got this book because, after years of having unusually high levels of self-discipline, I seemed to lose it (the discipline) after three major surgeries that resulted in a years' long recovery period. What happened, I thought? It wasn't that I didn't want to accomplish more goals; in fact, I have alot I wanted, needed, to do. So I began to read about HABITs. This book, The Power of Habits, is worth the read. And yes, there is a solution.
Researchers used to believe that the ability to be 'self-regulating' , e.g., not eating that tempting cookie, was merely a skill. Then after a decade or so more of studies, researchers found that habits are not only triggered by something in our lives, but that once we become aware of our personal 'triggers' that we can 'swap' the bad habit with a healthy one. Trigger-Response-Result. Of course, the goal is to create healthier, more productive habits. So how do we do that. And that's what you'll learn from this book. Everything from seeing how the brain works, how that understanding helps our process of changing habits, how to use this info if we're a parent, coach, CEO, there are case studies for Everyone. And they're really quite fascinating. About the obstacles Michael Phelps had to overcome, the positive habits his coach had him focus on to help him to relax, since all Olympian athletes have perfectly formed bodied (for their sport, at that level, so it was all about calming the mind, pretty much). And that case study was compelling to read. Also one about a well-known CEO of Alcoa, who used this info to change the entire process involved at Alcoa, in a most clever way (while getting everyone to hop on his bandwagon, which we know is virtually impossible at the corporate, heck, the family level!) Those are just two of the many references to specific situations that could be applied to your own personal/professional lives.
The point being, creating a new habit, or swapping a unhealthy habit with a healthy one (i.e., people who start exercising may reduce smoking); or people who start keeping a food journal one day per week, lost twice as much weight as the people who didn't (keep the journal); these are just of few of the studies which are fascinating. The beginning of the book spends maybe a bit too long on the guy who lost his memory and what they did to help him (it's related to the brain and referring to past habits), yet once you slog through that, you'll see how important it was and the rest of the book goes much faster.
Change one habit in your life and, as this book shows, it'll have a ripple effect, a positive affect on creating more and more positive habits throughout your life.
Support, by the way, is also important factor for anyone wanting to create new habits; so make your life easier by finding just one person who's interested & committed to meeting for a half-hour a week, 15 minutes for each to discuss solutions, what are your challenges and how to surmount them. It'd also make an interesting blog, for anyone who wants to change something in their life while discussing the ideas in this book and how you're applying them (to your situation). Help others while helping yourself. Or as the saying goes, "When you help another to get her canoe across the river, you also end up being across the river too." Or something like that, ha.
Back to The Power of Habit. Yes, we all have triggers in our life because the feelings that cause 'triggers' to overeat or smoke or drink, etc., are universal. We all feel these feelings. It's when we isolate, which many do, that our triggers may result in these unhealthy Responses and Results. (The book called Toughness talks about building up 'toughness', as if that's a muscle too. It's not as good a book as this, is mostly sports oriented, but well worth it for anyone realizing how important 'mental toughness' is.) The book, The Power of Habit, is also about building up a form of 'mental toughness', teaching us that, yes, we can use this information to respond to the difficult things/feelings in life IF we learn the skill and practice so as to strengthen the muscle.
Feelings that are hard to feel, such as loneliness, anxiety, stress, etc., that, in large part, is what this book is dancing around, without focusing directly on 'feelings'. Learning how to respond to our life in a way that's healthy, instead of destructive.This book explains how the brain works, illustrates with well-known people and case studies, and offers practical solutions for a wide variety of situations. Yes, it's definitely worth getting, and learning, again and again, until we 'get it'. As long as that takes.
The material is arranged in an easy-to-follow order and the narrator is pitch perfect, as well.
Want to change your life? It's about taking self-responsibility. And this book shows that it's not only possible, but feasible. Support is good, maybe necessary. And the more you/we all bring our best Self to the table, the more we'll all be able to contribute. It's about living life with meaning, not at the mercy of our parents' bad habits or our own. Yes, we can have more control over our lives. And isn't that alot of what happiness is. To make a difference, to be the person we're most capable of being? To connect with others and have something like this to share, because we were able to achieve it ourselves?!
If you're drawn to this subject, it's definitely worth your time.
What a marvelous book! My husband and I listened to it over about 7 days and each night we would discuss what we had heard the night before at length. We learned to observe our own habits and think about which ones we wanted to change. The story is engaging; at times funny and other times tragic but the effect keeps the listener interested.
The author builds each chapter and the listener is satisfied at the end. I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about why we do the things that we do. Also, if you are a reader of Drs. Dan Arielly and Daniel Gilbert you will appreciate this book.
I always judge the value of something by what I have learned from it and I have learned a lot about my own habits after listening to and thinking critically about the points made in this book.
1) Awful - I couldn't wait for the book to end. I don't understand why this book rated so highly. Basil ganglia aside, the book DOES NOT fulfill its promise of explaining Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. His central premise is that most of what we do is on autopilot, so were not responsible for our actions. When Charles Duhigg run out of things to say about what Neanderthals we all are, he meanders into database marketing and rails against the gaming industry. Ridiculous. sophomoric snival.
2) Boring - The points are often so drawn out that you think to yourself, does the author have to spell out ever detail as if he's talking to a 3 year old about staying away from the hot stove?
3) Predictable - I could have cut out half the book and knew exactly as much. I actually felt less intelligent when I finished this book.
4) Regrettable - Regret that I spent all that time listening. I kept thinking there must be some redeeming value, so I kept reading. No such luck. The book was a disaster from page 1 clear through to the end. It reminds me of the CHILDHOOD FAIRYTALE of the Emperor who had no clothes. This emperor HAS NOT INFORMATION WORTH READING.
Yes, if they wanted to change something in their life, or if they wanted to understand the power of habits.
This book does open your mind to the power of habits and their effect on our everyday lives. It offers some interesting ways to change habits that you have. Once you change one small habit in your life it becomes easier to start making big changes, and you would be surprised with how many things you do in life are driven by habit. Changing habits can help you to stop bitting your nails, and ultimately to change your view and outlook on everyday life and change your whole life for the better. Stories like how Paul O'Neil changed Alcoa do provide some evidence of how executives are using these techniques in business. Other stories are not as interesting or strong. Good length, good narrator.
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.
Read with feeling, easy to listen to.
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.
By cutting out 80% of the "human interest" stories and sticking to the promised "Why we do what we do...". Illustrating by example is all well and good but I found myself deeply frustrated with the amount of time spent tangentially setting up the same points. Imagine a book on the civil engineering discipline of bridge building spending 20 minutes talking about how aunt Margie needed to drive to the market to get sugar for her pound cake .... blah blah blah. I'm half way through and I regularly have to breathe deeply and count to ten in frustration at the ridiculous lengths this author went to to bloat his couple of very interesting nuggets into a full length book.
Anger, frustration, disappointment.
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.
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.
After the first hour or so, everything useful had been said. After that it was literally 9 hours of stories that are examples of the principles. Thia book could have been cut in half and still had been too long.
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