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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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  •  
    Lynn 07-31-12
    Lynn 07-31-12
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    "Get in the Habit"

    Charles Duhigg is a reporter for the New York Times and author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. I picked this volume up out of sheer curiosity and was well rewarded for my reading time. This is an entertaining and informative book. The book falls into three major sections. In the first, Duhigg brings readers up to speed on current research about individual habits. Wait! Don’t let that discourage you from turning some pages in this book. It is really helpful material. In the next section, Duhigg applies what we are coming to understand about the development of habits to organizations. The most helpful chapter in this section concerns how Starbucks has institutionalized habits of success. In the final section, Habits of Societies, Duhigg describes how the Montgomery Bus Boycott came to be and how the pastor of Saddleback Church came to use habit to build his congregation. Both chapters are well worth the price of the book. Readers hoping to know how to break bad habits will not find direct advice. However, the book outlines how habits are formed and much can be gleaned from that perspective. I hope that Duhigg will follow this volume with others. His writing style is very good and his preparation is evident. The reading of Mike Chamberlain is excellent.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason HALEIWA, HI, United States 06-19-12
    Jason HALEIWA, HI, United States 06-19-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Nothing Groundbreaking"

    The writer expands the meaning of "habits" to cover most all of human behavior. The connections between some of his stories and how they relate to habits are weak. It's also annoying how he jumps from one story to the next without reaching a conclusion to the previous story and then comes back to it later. One story at a time please! The book was a lot longer than it had to be. It can all be summed up in a couple sentences...

    Habits start with a cue and end with a reward. Identify the cue and reward and work hard to change the habit in between.

    He doesn't even give methods on how to apply his ideas. Nothing helpful. Nothing groundbreaking.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Whitby, ON, Canada 05-12-12
    Doug Whitby, ON, Canada 05-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great, real world stories that drive the point"
    What did you love best about The Power of Habit?

    Really interesting biographies of actual professionals and athletes that have used habit to excel in their fields


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    You realize how effective habits and shaping,creating habits can be


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

    I have begun creating routines and sticking to them. It's work at first, but the book provides inspiration and insight so that you keep at it.


    Any additional comments?

    Really enjoyed this book. Very different from the usual self-help books.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brianne 05-24-13
    Brianne 05-24-13 Member Since 2011
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    "It ended too Fast! It was so good!"
    Where does The Power of Habit rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I have listened to over about 100 books, so that is a tough one. I will say that I absolutely enjoyed this book because it offered a point of view backed by science and I was not expecting the book to be more of a learning experience. I was expecting a bit of self help. I was pleasantly surprised. Loved it!


    What did you learn from The Power of Habit that you would use in your daily life?

    I learned to take moments and observe why I do what I do. This is very useful!


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Mather San Francisco 04-11-13
    Susan Mather San Francisco 04-11-13 Member Since 2010

    Good books and peaceful days...

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    "Alchemy, finally . . ."

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larizalda 12-04-12
    Larizalda 12-04-12
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    "You will learn something about yourself"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich Maloy New York, NY United States 11-28-12
    Rich Maloy New York, NY United States 11-28-12 Member Since 2007

    rmaloy

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    "Informative & Practical"
    What did you love best about The Power of Habit?

    I consider this book to be the third part of an unofficial trilogy of related books: The Tipping Point, Made to Stick, and The Power of Habit. All three look into trends or habits, but each from a different angle. Tipping Point examines the WHY behind trends. Made to Stick, the WHAT behind trends & habits. But this book is the HOW to shape habits.

    There is a significant research overlap between Made to Stick & The Power of Habit, so if you've read the former, you'll recognize a couple of stories in the latter. But get it anyway, because this is the best of the bunch.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gayla 06-04-12
    Gayla 06-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Life Changing, World Changing"

    I can't stop talking about the ideas in this book. They are profound, based on sound research and told in an entertaining manner.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PeteSource 04-22-12
    PeteSource 04-22-12
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    "Habits"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, if they wanted to change something in their life, or if they wanted to understand the power of habits.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curt West Chester, PA, United States 04-05-12
    Curt West Chester, PA, United States 04-05-12 Member Since 2007
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    "A Tidbit or Two"

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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