[ Audiobooks ] The Power of Habit Author Charles Duhigg – Andy-palmer.co.uk
A Young Woman Walks Into A Laboratory Over The Past Two Years, She Has Transformed Almost Every Aspect Of Her Life She Has Quit Smoking, Run A Marathon, And Been Promoted At Work The Patterns Inside Her Brain, Neurologists Discover, Have Fundamentally Changed.Marketers At Procter Gamble Study Videos Of People Making Their Beds They Are Desperately Trying To Figure Out How To Sell A New Product Called Febreze, On Track To Be One Of The Biggest Flops In Company History Suddenly, One Of Them Detects A Nearly Imperceptible Pattern And With A Slight Shift In Advertising, Febreze Goes On To Earn A Billion Dollars A Year.An Untested CEO Takes Over One Of The Largest Companies In America His First Order Of Business Is Attacking A Single Pattern Among His Employees How They Approach Worker Safety And Soon The Firm, Alcoa, Becomes The Top Performer In The Dow Jones.What Do All These People Have In Common They Achieved Success By Focusing On The Patterns That Shape Every Aspect Of Our Lives They Succeeded By Transforming Habits.In The Power Of Habit, Award Winning New York Times Business Reporter Charles Duhigg Takes Us To The Thrilling Edge Of Scientific Discoveries That Explain Why Habits Exist And How They Can Be Changed With Penetrating Intelligence And An Ability To Distill Vast Amounts Of Information Into Engrossing Narratives, Duhigg Brings To Life A Whole New Understanding Of Human Nature And Its Potential For Transformation Along The Way We Learn Why Some People And Companies Struggle To Change, Despite Years Of Trying, While Others Seem To Remake Themselves Overnight We Visit Laboratories Where Neuroscientists Explore How Habits Work And Where, Exactly, They Reside In Our Brains We Discover How The Right Habits Were Crucial To The Success Of Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, And Civil Rights Hero Martin Luther King, Jr We Go Inside Procter Gamble, Target Superstores, Rick Warren S Saddleback Church, NFL Locker Rooms, And The Nation S Largest Hospitals And See How Implementing So Called Keystone Habits Can Earn Billions And Mean The Difference Between Failure And Success, Life And Death.At Its Core, The Power Of Habit Contains An Exhilarating Argument The Key To Exercising Regularly, Losing Weight, Raising Exceptional Children, Becoming Productive, Building Revolutionary Companies And Social Movements, And Achieving Success Is Understanding How Habits Work Habits Aren T Destiny As Charles Duhigg Shows, By Harnessing This New Science, We Can Transform Our Businesses, Our Communities, And Our Lives. I need to start with the obvious this guy is one of those writers One of those writers that make you want to track him down and hurt him And not just him, maybe even his pets too He assumes you are as thick as dog shit and that you won t get what it is he is talking about unless he makes it painfully PAINFULLY clear He has missed his calling He really should have gone into the self help book market let s face it, assuming your readers are dumb in that market is just responding to reality You might be wondering why I gave this book three stars, given I wanted to find ways to hurt the author Well, the problem is that some of the ideas here are not insane, in fact, some are really well worth thinking about It s just that someone someone who also needs hunted down, now that I think about it has told this guy you need to tell a story And while this is often excellent advice you also need to remember that people are reading your book for a reason and that reason isn t to cry over the last moments of a drug addict s life or to find out how the skunk lady got laid No, it is to find out about the affect of habits and what we can do to change the habits of a life time that are stuffing up our lives.I ve been reading lots of Bourdieu lately He talks of Habitus what he calls the feel for the game , but basically the habits we have that are so unconscious we don t even know they are habits and so, therefore, have no idea what a huge part they play in shaping the kinds of people we are So we tend to think that because we wouldn t do something someone else clearly has done that automatically qualifies us for the golden stamp of merit Whereas, so much of what we do in life is either non rational or automatic having those automatic structures implanted in us from no age is a matter of luck than of rational deliberation.This guy stuffs up his argument at the end by not having the conviction of what his view on habits was telling him He tells a long, long, long story of a woman that lost everything through gambling Terribly sad and all that But obviously this book is written in America and so nothing can come between the rights of rich people to take money from poor people So, the fact that casinos do everything to manipulate you so that you end up with nothing is YOUR fault, not theirs have you no self control Have you no free will I think this guy should read Sam Harris s new book Either that or he needs to also argue that it should be ok for drug dealers to offer kids drugs at schools and in the streets if one is wrong it isn t at all obvious why the other is right And if not drugs to kids, then drugs to adults unless I m missing something the same argument applies.This book is quite chilling in that it explains in very long and all too often boring detail, in fact endless bloody detail, just how companies like Target are targeting you and manipulating you to buy and buy and buy Yet again this is presented as if it was nothing to be concerned about but I struggled to read it as something I should just shrug and get over When I first learned about data warehousing it sent a cold shiver down my spine I have never had Fly Buys or any other of those loyalty programs that give those arseholes all of my details so they can work out how to better market to people like me I m manipulated enough in life without needing to provide billionaires with better weapons to trip me up.The information in this book is very worthwhile But if you ever needed proof that Gladwell has lots to answer for, this book is Item A on the case for the prosecution And what the hell is it about American Football I hope to God it isn t nearly as uninteresting to watch as it is to read about No wonder Americans invade countries at the drop of a hat anything to get away from two down on the thirty first yard line with a wingback on a hiding to nowhere blah, blah AHHHHH This is great book, and you need to read it How is that for a definitive opening line The reason it s such a good book is because it uses research to explain how habits are formed and changed Everyone knows someone who was out of shape, or was a smoker, and then in what appeared as if almost overnight, changed themselves in a short period of time How did they do that They formed new habits and changed old ones, that s how.Do something enough and it becomes a habit, good or bad This is explained in the book by research on memory loss For example, the research found that patients suffering from memory loss could not show someone where the kitchen is when asked, but once they got hungry the would get up and go to the kitchen automatically.This is made possible by the habit loop of cue, routine, and reward The cue makes the brain find the routine as it anticipates the reward A classic example is stress and smoking, the cue is stress, the routine is smoking, the reward is the feeling the cigarette brings.I was most interested in how the book described changing a habit Let s face it, we all have habits we want to change To accomplish this we need to keep the cue and reward, but change the routine I ll use an example from my own life to illustrate I love chocolate, and to make it worse I love to eat at it night Well I love to eat at night because that is how I formed the habit some time ago I used the guidance from this book to change that habit I kept the cue and reward, but I changed the routine to use apples instead of chocolate.This logic flows into much larger problem sets such as organizations and communities Focus on changing one thing, the keystone habit from which a cascade of other habits will form The author illustrates this example by discussing how the company Alcoa was transformed by the keystone habit of a singular focus on safety.The book flows really well and uses research throughout to substantiate the concepts presented The audience who can benefit from this book is vast, from individuals to corporates to governments. This may be a crappy review since its going up via iPhone Sorry First caveat I work in research A big part of my job is creating these habit loops and seeing if they can be altered or enhanced via medication Second caveat I m a nerd and love journal articles, scientific writing, and technical reading, even off the job.Third caveat I only got to chapter eight I honestly don t know what I was expecting By far and large, when there s big buzz about a book I inevitably dislike it with very few exceptions I was hoping for something smart and eye opening a different, personal take on habits and addiction which is really what a habit is if you think about it , and I was let down mostly by the writing and anecdotes I realize this book isn t intended for scientific review, but when there were so many teasing moments of talking about the research going on, I guess I just expected a little substance in laymans terms The biggest problem I had with the book was that I probably could have only read the first few chapters and have a total grasp of the theory While some stories were interesting, they reminded me of Grandpa Simpson s storytelling I don t think we needed so many examples that all said the same thing Think of all the trees that could have been saved if a few were omitted Don t get me wrong, it wasn t a bad read People with a non neuroscience background can enjoy it and will learn something from it Although how to apply it to your life is pretty much missing from the book unless it was in the chapters I didn t get to yet Yeah, find a new reward to break bad habits, but how It would have been interesting to see those suggestions Overall, not horrible Had it not been a book club read I wouldn t have picked it up of my own volition, but I m not upset that I read most of it I am upset that I kept reading hoping to get something different in the next chapter, which didn t happen Just save the time and money and read his NY Times article at least I think it was there instead. I remember reading a story by the famous Malayalam writer Padmarajan called Oru Sameepakala Durantham A Tragedy of Recent Times It tells of a housing colony in Kerala, bitten by the exercise bug in the early eighties Someone gets up before sunrise and starts jogging Soon, he is joined by and people until the whole colony is out running, every day This leaves the houses unattended which comes to the notice of a group of thieves and they conduct a spate of early morning robberies The people of the colony, even after a couple of houses are robbed, continue their morning ritual they can t stop, even after they know that their houses may be invaded any time.Padmarajan ostensibly wrote this seemingly absurd and Kafkaesque story to make fun of the urban animal, blindly following the latest fad But he may have true to life than he thought.Such is the power of habit This book by Duhigg, if you can get past the unnecessarily prolix prose, says a very simple but significant thing habit is what drives you From picking your nose to gambling away your life s savings, ingrained habits hard coded into your brain makes you tick It follows the cue routine reward loop as illustrated below Cue a certain time routine eat a cookie reward diversion from work Habits are not endemic to people alone organisations and societies also have habits, which why they are so resistant to change.The key to getting rid of a destructive habit is to replace it with a constructive one In the loop illustrated above, the cue and the reward would remain the same, but a different routine can be substituted See below Here the routine of have a drink is replaced with have a chat This is easier said than done, however it requires real effort to identify a habit, and great will power which can be cultivated, according to Duhigg to change it But it can be done Successful individuals have changed their lives by changing destructive habits successful executives have turned around companies by changing corporate habits and leaders have transformed societies Examples abound in this book.And please note supermarket chains and gambling dens monitor our habits and feed those which will drain our pockets and maximise their profits This book is well worth a read I only wish that the author had cut the fluff and trimmed it down to a slimmer volume But then, the HABIT of writing needlessly long books among American journalists is one that dies hard. Nothing Succeeds Like Success A Case StudyHey Have you heard of Thomas Baker How about Carol Wright Chris Cameron Vineet Shaw Let us discuss Baker.Thomas Baker was an average joe, but not without ambitions A few years ago, acting on a tip, Tom, a competitive enough guy, decided to take his life into his own hands What s , he decided to pick up one Self help book and this time follow up thoroughly on it No holds barred He asked around, looked in that wonderful site and finally decided on what seemed to him like the best out there right now The ratings seemed to be out of the world too The author, in the intro, even tries to reassure him against feeling overwhelmed by the excess of research in the book This is exactly the sort of help that Tom needed Tom read the book with great diligence He made notes and he made placards and he even bought magnets for his fridge and special sticky tapes for his mirrors He knew this could work He only had to believe.He changed his routines, identified and included habit forming cues He created them, he played around with them, he even had some fun He was very inventive and imaginative The author would have commended the effort if he knew Tom decide that he would write to Duhigg about his success once it pays off A month passed. Tom had made slight improvements but no major pay off seemed to be in the offing He chided himself for expecting windfalls He reminded himself that these things take time He kept at it 6 months now. Even the minor gains he had made originally have fallen by the wayside now He had read the book thrice in this time, trying to reaffirm his faith He was discouraged now but he kept at it 2 years. The book is long forgotten But Tom had taken the trouble to document his experiences and had sent a detailed case study to the author He had requested that it be included in the next edition of the book He wanted the author to include a chapter on failures on how it might not work for everyone He wanted a caveat, a mild statement of warning that just because a book worth of case studies of success is presented, there is no reason to expect that any approach no matter how good might work for everyone Humans would be fulfilling Asimovesque dreams if that were the case He thought this would add depth and realism to an otherwise fine book.He did not even get an auto generated acknowledgment slip But that was ok, he had discovered a new Gladwell book on another airport aisle Apparently, it is not just habits that doesn t stick, lessons don t either. This long winded book explains how habits form in individuals, organizations, and social groups Despite the intriguing premise, the verbose anecdotes left me screaming, I get the point already A better book or article would have resulted from taking the appendix a short, practical guide to changing a habit and adding some of the psychological research and a few brief examples After I wrote this review, I discovered Charles Duhigg s New York Times article, which is basically what I described The book s moral is a respectable one once you re aware of a bad habit, it s your responsibility to change it.My favorite case study was the one about Target using predictive analytics and behavioral research to personalize its marketing to each shopper s habits A habit is a cue that triggers a routine that results in a reward Habits can t be eradicated they can only be replaced The Golden Rule of Habit Change to replace a habit, keep the cue and reward but replace the routine For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group Studies show that willpower is a finite resource it s like a muscle that tires with use Willpower can be increased by exercising self discipline Increasing self discipline in one area of life increases it in other areas To introduce new habits, sandwich them between existing ones so they feel familiar Habits are most susceptible to being altered when your life changes Having a baby is the event that produces the most habit changes. Judging from the prologue of The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, the first thing necessary in modifying one s behavior is to note the actual components of that behavior The author cites a visit with a military officer in charge of normalizing a village Kufa in Iraq The officer started by observing video of how riots began and noticed that the trouble usually broke out after people had milled around for a while and food trucks and spectators arrived He changed the behavior by asking the mayor not to allow food trucks into the areas where people were demonstrating p 13 on Sony eReader, as will be all pagination in the remainder of this review Something as simple as the presence of food trucks threw off a habit of violence and allowed some normalization This seemed amazing, but something resonated strongly with this truth The Power of Habits begins with anecdotal accounts of people who changed destructive habits in their lives and one account of a man who had absolutely no short term memory but was able to function as a result of habits already ingrained within him The latter case demonstrated that there was something distinctive between one part of our brain and another So, the author takes the reader on a tour of a lab at M.I.T where scientists have been researching a golf ball sized lump in the brain called the basal ganglia since 1990 p 25 Apparently, the basal ganglia stores habits while the rest of the brain works less and less because the chunks of actions stored in that section of the brain takes over p 26 Arriving at this understanding, researchers were able to use different experiments to ascertain a habit loop They noticed that a certain cue triggers a set of automatic reactions such that the being feels rewarded As a result of being rewarded, there is an even stronger response to the same cue on the next occasion p 29 Of course, if reward can reinforce the habit whenever one senses that cue, changing the reward can eventually extinguish that habit p 30 as the researchers discovered by moving the chocolate around the maze to mess up the behaviors.So, what kinds of cues work The Power of Habits tells the story of Claude Hopkins, an advertising legend who created the demand for toothpaste by creating a craving Hopkins noticed in dental research that there is a film that forms on our teeth He decided to get people to feel the mucin plaques on their teeth by calling them the film and suggesting that beauty comes from eliminating the film p 40 By identifying a cue the film that is almost always there and suggesting a reward getting rid of that film , he established a multi million dollar product Sounds simple, doesn t it Yet, the book goes on to tell the story of Febreze, the air freshener that started out as a failure Even though it was extremely effective in getting rid of odors, it wasn t selling because people in odiferous situations became used to the odors They weren t getting the cue So, there had to be a better way to cue the reward and that came to be with pleasant fragrances and the idea of finishing a task with beautiful smelling Febreze a tactic that is still being used in dozens of new products in this product line to the present day p 56 The habit loop works even better when a craving is attached to it It turns out that Pepsodent already had the craving element built in with the citric acid or mint taste that rewarded users with a tingling sense of feeling clean It s pretty masterful the way this author closes the loop in each chapter.Then, a chapter introduces the Golden Rule of habit change It notes that you can never quite remove a bad habit, but you need to substitute a new routine between the cue and the reward p 61 In this chapter, Tony Dungy s coaching philosophy of substituting a simpler playbook with repetition for the old routine of over thinking what one might be trying to do In this way, the new routine would reside between the cue hiking the ball and the reward scoring a touchdown Making a sack of the QB and success would result p 62 Naturally, this chapter wraps Dungy s experiences with turning around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts football teams around the history of Alcoholics Anonymous Both Dungy as a coach and Bill Wilson who founded A.A teach people to substitute new routines for the old ones p 68 , bad football in the former and alcohol abuse in the latter.One of the keys to Dungy s eventual success and one of the core tenets of A.A or any 12 step program is that one must believe in something Dungy complained early on that practice was going well and everything was coming together, but the training would disappear during the big games When he heard the players saying that they went back to what they knew during critical games, Dungy said, What they were really saying was that they trusted our system most of the time, but when everything was on the line, that belief broken down p 75 And, as one researching from the University of New Mexico noted, belief is critical in order for change to work in the long run p 78 The section on habits in business wasn t as interesting to me, but even there I found some intriguing aspects It was fascinating to read about how keystone habits encourage widespread change by creating cultures where new values become ingrained p 109 This section told the story of former U.S Treasury Secretary Paul O Neill s success at Alcoa O Neill s emphasis was safety By placing the emphasis on safety, he gave the corporation something around which management because of reducing lost work days and unions because of emphasizing the safety of the workers could both agree upon There was also an insight with regard to the gay liberation movement Duhigg suggests that when the Library of Congress re categorized books on homosexuality as its own subject matter rather than under mental illness, it provided a paradigm shift that fueled the movement p 100 It just shows how little shifts can have seismic effects, not only on individuals, but on society.Another corporate chapter used an experiment on willpower where half of the group was allowed to eat fresh baked chocolate chip cookies while another group was forced to eat radishes Sounds like the latter would have a healthy advantage when the group was asked to perform a complex problem which had no real solution Sounds like they would be mentally fresh Wrong Those who had eaten the radishes were most likely to quit after only a few minutes while the cookie eaters kept on for half an hour or so Why Researchers concluded that the first portion of the experiment had used up much of the finite willpower in the radish eaters p 119 A later study showed that using kindness to set up the willpower goals as opposed to ordering willpower allowed those who experienced kindness to concentrate longer p 130.Building on that idea, Duhigg recounted a Scottish rehabilitation study where the elderly patients who were most successful in learning to walk again in spite of excruciating pain had identified potential obstacles in advance and created their own ways of dealing with them Put another way, the patients plans were built around inflection points when they knew their pain and thus the temptation to quit would be the strongest p 124 Starbucks put this to work in what they called the LATTE method Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then, Explain why the problem occurred in dealing with irate customers p 126.Another chapter deals with destructive institutional habits There are no organizations without institutional habits There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought, so they often grow from rivalries or fear p 137 Companies aren t families They re battlefields in a civil war p 139 I was also fascinated with the chapter on consumer behavior Did you know that almost everyone turns right after entering a retail establishment and that retailers stock their most profitable items on the right side of the store p 157 Did you know that people s buying habits change when they go through a major life event marriage, having a child, divorce, moving p 162 And, in the facts are stranger than fiction department, Duhigg cites a company named Polyphonic HMI that statistically analyzes the mathematical characters of a song and predicts its popularity p 167 Why is that strange It s because Norman Spinrad, a terrific science fiction author, predicts it in his novel in the 1980s Little Heroes Sorry, Duhigg doesn t cite Spinrad that s me I was happy that Duhigg recounted a huge Polyphonic miscalculation It also explained why I don t listen to music on the radio very much Our brains crave familiarity in music because familiarity is how we manage to hear without becoming distracted by all the sound p 171 I actually listen to the radio for stimuli.The section on the habits of societies was particularly relevant to me because the first chapter dealt with churches, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr s Montgomery church and Rick Warren s Saddleback Community Church Starting with the idea of a social network of friendships and growing through informal ties Duhigg calls them weak ties and changing community habits, social habits turn on personal integrity and relationships Duhigg pointed out how Rosa Park s ties that transcended the social stratifications of the black community through her volunteer involvement with many groups on many levels enabled her to become the catalyst that she was p 184 The important insight that was new to me was The habits of peer pressure often spread through weak ties And they gain their authority through communal expectations If you ignore the social obligations of your neighborhood, if you shrug off the expected patterns of your community, you risk losing your social standing p 189 Sadly, I was disappointed in the section on Rick Warren The book makes it sound like Warren selected Saddleback Community from a long way away by citing Warren s seminary education in Texas and work as a volunteer missionary in Japan Strangely, it doesn t mention the fact that Saddleback was only a little 30 minutes drive from where Warren attended college in Riverside or that Warren s father had been a professional minister in California prior to his retirement I did like the emphasis on small groups as the key to creating a sticky environment that drew on already existing social urges and patterns p 198 One significant section of the book was dedicated to the idea of whether we are responsible for our habits By juxtaposing the tale of a gambler if you listen to This American Life on public radio, you probably heard this story who went to court with a major casino chain by insisting that the casino operators were responsible for her problem alongside that of a British subject who killed his wife during sleep terrors, Duhigg raises the issue but concludes by stating that he believes it is possible to change habits any habits The gambler protested that she just wanted to feel good at something p 208 and the killer protested that he honestly thought his wife was a male intruder assaulting his wife p 209.This section pointed out that, for example, sleepwalking is a reminder that sleep and wakefulness aren t that separate so that the brain can accomplish complex activities and nothing is guiding the brain except patterns pp 210 211 Even powerful are the behaviors described as sleep terrors Sleep terrors are primitive neurological patterns p.212 It even points out that a 2010 MRI study of gamblers discovered that, to pathological gamblers, brain activity was so high that it treated near misses as wins p.220 when, in fact, they were losses So, can such ingrained perceptions be changed Duhigg cites William James decision to believe in free will as opposed to surrendering to suicide p 226 As James tried his 12 month long experiment, he discovered that habits were based upon exercising them pp 226 227 much like a well folded paper or an old pair of well creased slacks And all of these great narratives point the reader toward the most useful part of the book, learning to change behavior by identifying the routine, figuring out the cue that triggers the routine and the craving underlying that cue by experimenting with different rewards p 230 If you can figure out what you really want and substitute a better routine to satisfy that craving, you will be well on your way toward changing that habit That doesn t mean you won t fall off the wagon, but it means you will be on your way to shaping your actions by your will as opposed to ingrained behaviors. Read this because of fascinating NYT magazine excerpt on how Target tracks our buying habits The rest of the book is not as compelling anecdotes sometimes don t support particular arguments he s attempting to illustrate the Hey Ya examples being the most egregious , and his section on how social movements occur is weak and unconvincing, and not really about habits, per se Style and structure were often clunky, and the book seems a bit muddled as its ultimate purpose I dunno, I guess I was expecting slightly substantial psychology or social science and instead got of a book solidly for businesses manager types and people on the beginning of their self help journeys But I fall into the latter category, so why am I pooh pooh ing this book so much I dunno Maybe I am just jealous of how money this dude s gonna make at corporate speaking gigs Anyway, lessons I ll take away making your bed every morning and committing to regular exercise are two habits that can transform your entire goddamn life Diagram about mouse brain activity spike post reward eventually arriving prior to reward the origin of cravings Changing habits requires identifying the cues and rewards that trigger and support the habit behavior, then trying out various substitutes for the behavior that might achieve the same reward deliberate advance plans for responding to challenging situations can be extremely helpful ex Scottish knee hip replacement patients, Michael Phelps, Starbucks With challenging habits like alcoholism or stuff related to football, true belief and submission to some higher purpose is necessary in general, it s effective to change others habits if you make them believe they have some power or authority over their decision than if you coerce them with force casinos are super evil Our local book club read this a few years ago I thought I had a review.perhaps it disappeared Maybe it s still here I saw a friend currently reading it I thought this book explained some useful information Talked about success through good habits organizational skills addictions habits hard to break and how to create new ones lots of repetition some basic common sense but also good tidbits and even validation in some areas The personal stories of people s lives were interesting and my favorite part about reading this book was the book discussion with the people in my book club group after.