The Power of Habit

Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

About The Power of Habit :

The Power of Habit explains how important a role habits play in our lives, from brushing our teeth to smoking to exercising, and how exactly those habits are formed. The research and anecdotes in The Power of Habit provide easy tips for changing habits both individually as well as in organizations. The book spent over 60 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

About the author:

Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-prize-nominated investigative reporter who writes for the New York Times. He has won numerous awards for his work and has appeared on TV shows such as Frontline and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

My highlights:

  • Habits are simple cue-routine-reward loops that save effort and endure.
  • any habit can be broken down into a three-part loop: an external cue, the routine, a reward
  • Habits stick because they create craving.
  • Kicking a bad habit is hard because you develop a craving for the reward at the end of the habit loop.
  • brains begin anticipating the reward even before they get it.
  • To change a habit, substitute the routine for another and believe in the change.
  • the golden rule of changing any habit: don’t resist craving, redirect it. Keep the same cues and rewards, but change the routine that occurs as a result of that craving.
  • believe in the possibility of change for themselves, which makes them stronger in the face of stressful life events.
  • Change can be achieved by focusing on keystone habits and achieving small wins.
  • keystone habits, are more important than others, because adhering to them creates positive effects that spill over into other areas
  • The reason a keystone habit works is that it provides small wins, meaning early successes that are fairly easy to attain. Achieving the keystone habit helps you believe that change in other spheres of life is possible, too, starting a cascade of positive changes.
  • Willpower is the most important keystone habit.
  • Willpower, it seemed, was a keystone habit that could be applied to other parts of life, too.
  • mentally prepared for unpleasant situations and planned out how to overcome them, they could muster enough willpower to follow the plan even when under pressure.
  • a lack of autonomy also adversely affects willpower. If people do something because they are ordered to rather than by choice, their willpower muscle will get tired much quicker.
  • We bear the responsibility for changing our habits.
  • once we become aware of a harmful habit, it becomes our responsibility to address and change it.

Final summary

All habits comprise a cue-routine-reward loop, and the easiest way to change this is to substitute the routine with something else while keeping the cue and reward the same. Achieving lasting change in life is difficult, but it can be done by focusing on important keystone habits such as willpower.

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