Saturday 23 June 2012

The Power of Habit

Finished June 23
The Power of Habit: why we do what we do and how to change it by Charles Duhigg

This fascinatiing book looks at the nature of habits, explaining how habits work, why habits never really go away (but can be changed), and what goes on in our brains around them.
The basic structure of habits is the habit loop. Some sort of cue leads us to a routine or habit, that leads us to some sort of reward. The chapter on creating new habits led me to begin a habit I'd been unsuccessful at instilling in myself until now, flossing my teeth daily. I decided to start with this simple habit, and see how well this habit creation worked before starting some other, potentially more difficult, habits. I've found it worked very well. It also talks about how bad habits can be replaced with new, better habits.
The book doesn't only look at personal habits, it also looks at habits in terms of organizations, and in terms of society. It shows us how corporations use the study of people's habits in influence marketing and directed marketing to increase purchase of products. It also shows how societies are influenced, and changed by habits and by sudden changes in habits.
There is an appendix that walks the reader through the process of identifying the routine, reward and cue to a habit you want to change, and how to effect that change.
Just knowing how habits work and how others try to influence our habits can make us less susceptible to that influence. Awareness of both the process and one's own habitual behaviours is the first step in making changes.

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