A great and insightful book about our habits
The power of habit
“The brains dependence on automatic routines can be dangerous. Habits are often as much a curse as a benefit”Charles Duhigg
375 pages of insight into habits and how they influence and shape our decisions. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Charles Duhigg. Duhigg answers often asked questions like why do we develop habits? And how can you change these habits? This book contains a great mixture of behavioral science as well as practical tips and tricks. Whilst reading we dive into our own brains and see how it shapes our lives through habits.
My personal reading notes
Forming a habit
The brain is always looking to save some energy, this is why habits emerge. To save energy, the brain will transform most structural routines into habits.
Forming a habit consists of three steps. Normally people see, hear, or otherwise detect a clue, which triggers a routine (action) which leads to a reward. The routine can be physical, mental, or emotional. If these three steps are done over and over the brain anticipates the reward. With this comes a catch, when you don’t get the reward even though the brain anticipated it you can become frustrated or angry.
Habits are very powerful because they are able to create neurological cravings. Often, we are not aware of the existence of these cravings and thus blind to their influence. In essence, these cravings make following a habit automatically possible. But, as research shows it is only when your brain starts expecting the reward that it will become automatic to perform the routine and thus form the habit.
Changing and creating habits
To overpower a habit we must recognize which craving is driving the behavior. The golden rule of habit change is “you can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it”. Start with identifying the cue and reward. After this, keep these two the same but change the routine. By taking advantage of existing patterns, new behaviors can be formed successfully.
Belief (in change) is needed to make the habit stick in tough times. That is why some people stick to their habits after finding religion.
When people are asked to do something that takes self-control it is much less taxing on their willpower if they feel it is their choice. In contrast, if they feel like they have no autonomy it will come at a much higher cost.
Keystone habits show that success does not depend on getting every single habit changed. Instead, it relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers. Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as “small wins”. These small wins, help other habits to flourish by creating new structures. Besides this, they establish cultures where change becomes contagious. Small wins have enormous power, their influence is disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victory itself. For most people exercise is a keystone habit.
Besides keystone habits, major life changes also make people more susceptible to change habits. This is clearly seen in their purchasing behavior.
What I take from the book
The key to almost anything in life is possible by instilling the right habit(s).
Be cautious about routinizing bad behavior, before you know it it becomes a habit. For me, this means; not doing any leisure activities in my home office, not sitting down on the couch immediately after work, and no snacks when feeling bored.
For me exercising is definitely a keystone habit. Therefore, I want to make sure I exercise first thing in the morning.
This book inspired me to do more research about the flow state. I will definitely put it on my to-do list. Of course, inspiring and interesting findings will be shared on this blog.