Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Title: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Author: Duhigg, Charles
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Sociology
Publisher / Year: Random House / 2012
Source: At Book Expo America.
Why I Read It: It sounded interesting, and useful.
Date Read: 12/07/12
How much conscious thought do you put into your day-to-day activities and actions? The truth, Duhigg shows us, is that we really think consciously about much less of what we do than we really think. A large part of our daily activities are driven by habit, which is both good and bad. The bad is the ways in which we can stick with bad habits, but on the good side – habits can be changed.
Duhigg begins by talking about how habits work and are created, the ways in which certain cues trigger us to anticipate rewards, and the ways that we can use these existing habits to form new, better habits. Discussed as well are the ways that certain keystone habits can have trickle down effects throughout your whole life. The second section in the book discusses habits within organizations, and the ways that organizational habits can be changed or improved. Certainly interesting to read here were the stories of different leaders and corporations who changed the habits in their organizations drastically. The last section discusses habits in societies and responsibility – this last chapter was really interesting as it laid out some of the ethical issues surrounding habits and how they make us act.
One interesting fact in the book was the discussion of willpower as a muscle. Duhigg talks about and references studies that have shown that the more we use our willpower through the day, the more likely we are to succumb to temptation later on. As any muscle, however, we can train our willpower through our habits in order to make better decisions despite obstacles. One interesting way this comes into play is through our opportunities and engagements – the more we are treated kindly or feel we have autonomy in our decisions and actions, for example at work, the easier it is to stay on track.
The topic is interesting and written about in such a way as to keep the reader engaged. As an investigative journalist, Duhigg has done the necessary research to lay out the newest discoveries around intricate processes inside our brain. Certainly well-researched, with an extensive Note section at the end, the studied discussed are all fascinating.
Recommended to all who like non-fiction, who want to improve their own habits, or who are interested in science and the brain.