Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

After my great experience reading The Happiness Advantage, I was hooked on these science-based "self help" books; so I decided to grab another from the life-changing book list: The Power of Habit.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a book that breaks down how habits form and why, and then gives you not only suggestions to change your own habits for the better but also gives countless examples who used each one of the suggested techniques successfully. The book begins by talking about how your brain works and where habits form (as well as why this is significant). All habits are a 3-part move: first you have the trigger, followed by the routine, then ended with the reward. The key to changing habits is to keep the trigger and routine the same (or similar), but change the routine. This means that when you see a plate of donuts, instead of eating one (the routine) and having your brain rushed with sugar (the reward), you can change what the donuts make you want to do but your body can still release the same chemicals to your brain as the sugar does. Pretty crazy, huh? If all you wanted to know was how to change your habits in a nutshell, there you have it. If, like me, you want to learn all the ins and outs, you should read the book. The examples included are all famous enough that I recalled hearing about them a bit before (even the sports references). I did learn a few new tidbits though. For example, did you know that in World War II, the government had to export most of our beef to the soldiers in Europe, leaving very little for the American people at large. To fill the need of proteins, the government launched a campaign on how to add organ meats to your weekly meals instead. They gave out pamphlets of recipes and put out (sort of) propaganda type posters and advertisements promoting things like liver. Ever wonder why our grandparents eat these organs that the following generations are disgusted by? It's because of this campaign. It was the most successful dietary campaign our government ever launched, and it is still the only one that successfully changed our diets so greatly. Pretty interesting, huh? That is just one teeny tiny notion in this vast book filled with other similar examples of habit change. The best thing is that the book doesn't just say, "Stop doing ____! You can do it!" It gives examples of other mass habit changes and then breaks down what made them work, which you can apply in your own life to better yourself.

There is so much that this book covers, it would be impossible to give a proper synopsis here. Just know that I thought it was an incredible book, and it really did help me to identify habits I didn't know I had and recognize how to change them. To me, that makes reading this book well worth the effort. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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