The Power of Habit

By Charles Duhigg 2014

In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg summarizes hundreds of scientific papers, and uses interviews with academics in the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and neuroscience, to explain how our habits are formed, and how they shape us. Without making it a self-help book, Duhigg goes beyond the science to offer specific examples of how people shape their own habits, and even help others transform their lives.

Habits are formed by behavioral patterns, like repetition, which in turn create neurological patterns as well. This is why bad habits, like smoking, or eating too much, are so hard to break: they are deeply engrained in our brains. However, Duhigg shows that by learning new routines and practicing them over and over again, one can effectively change the patterns that shape almost every aspect of our lives. For instance, the book uses the example of “the success of the former N.F.L. coach Tony Dungy, who, with lots and lots of practice, taught his players a small number of important moves they could perform without thinking, even at the most crucial point in a game.”


Whether you are a company trying to figure out how to sell a new product, or a manager trying to improve your company’s performance, or just curious about how to push yourself to exercise more regularly, Duhigg’s book distills a great amount of scientific discoveries that will help you better understand our human nature and its potential for transformation.

Shock value is not the aim of all this criticism of conventional wisdom. HIs critiques support a winning thesis. And that thesis is fundamentalist. To do well, you must have a truly original idea as well as the energy and drive to implement it. These ideas should be implemented in more places than Silicon Valley and in industries other than IT. If more people did that the US would be a better place, because optimistic visions would become realities once again. “How can the future get better if no one plans for it?”

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