Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Power of Habit

If you're going to read one "important" book this summer, let it be this one:

I love, love, loved this book. I'm always fascinated by human behavior and social psychology. This book explores the power of habit in three arenas: personal, organizational, and societal. For each, Charles Duhigg tells stories of individuals, corporations or movements that were able to take a negative habit pattern and turn it into a positive one.

If you read this book, you will learn how to:

- create a positive habit by continuously repeating the loop of cue-routine-reward
- break a negative habit by finding the cue that triggers it, changing the routine, and creating a new reward
- recognize the power of individual and corporate habits in the running of major organizations, from Target to Starbucks to hospitals
- use the power of habit and the ties of community to help spur the tide of social change.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Habits aren't destiny... habits can be ignored, changed, or replaced. But... the discovery of the bait loop... reveals a basic truth: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. So unless you deliberately fight a habit- unless you find new routines- the pattern will unfold automatically."

"Habits allow our brain to ramp down more often. An efficient brain requires less room. An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and, eventually, airplanes and video games."

"Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work."

And, because I'm a music teacher, and believe this is a very important part of what I do:

"That's why signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is so important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star... when you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time."

(And a fourth grader who can practice clarinet for twenty minutes a day becomes an eighth grader with the endurance to concentrate on a ninety minute science lab. That's why musicians and athletes make the best students. That's not from the book, but the book proves its truth.)

Like Laura Vanderkam's books, this is another life-changing one. I promise it will get you thinking about your daily habits, everything from brushing your teeth to flicking through the Target coupons (that were customized for you based on your shopping habits- did you know that?).

I've been reading like crazy- more books to come!


  1. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved. It could be an old fave. There is already quite a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved July Edition

  2. Great that you linked in. thanks. I have now put the book's title and author in for you. cheers

    Ps As I am commenting on things today I am reminding people that if you turn off your word verification stuff people will find it much easier to comment on your posts. Give it a go!

  3. Just to let you know that your review has been featured today on Carole's Chatter. Have a good week.