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Learning the Power of Habits

Updated on October 12, 2012

About "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

Is it strange to write a review of a 350 page book when I’ve read less than 80 pages? Maybe, but I see it as part of showing my commitment to change.

First the discovery – this is not your average self-help book. In fact the classification on the back cover is “Popular Science / Business & Management”. So why was it in the self-help section at the book shop?

The subtitle of the book is “Why we do what we do and how to change it”. That sounds like self-help to me. So perhaps this book is a little bit of everything.

I’m half way through chapter two, and still learning about habits. Chapter three is “The Golden Rule of Habit Change”. After that the book moves on to studying Organizations in part two and Societies in part three. Which means that, if I’m looking for help in improving myself, chapter three is the heart of the book.

So maybe I need to assess this book from a different viewpoint. What I’ve read so far is a scientific study of how the brain works. There are the inevitable studies of how animals react to different stimuli, but they go beyond any I’ve encountered before. The simplest experiments show how easily a habit can become an addiction, even in a so-called dumb animal.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the book thus far is the case study of an elderly man called Eugene Pauly, a man who suffered serious brain damage. Pauly’s long-term memory remains intact, but he is unable to build any new memories and cannot answer simple questions like “Where is the kitchen?” So how is he able to develop new habits?

You will have to read the book to find out more about this remarkable man.

So, if I’m uncertain whether this is a self-help book, is it worth reading? The answer is a definite YES. This is one of the most interesting books I have ever read.

“The Power of Habit” is not about affirmations. It is about understanding the reasons we do what we do. And that is the first step to changing the bad habits we wish to break.

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    • Gina145 profile imageAUTHOR

      Gina145 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      @CloudExplorer thanks for your kind words and for making me feel so welcome here.

      I agree that habitual acts are self trained, though this is often unintentional. The real difficulty comes when you recognise your bad habits but struggle to break them. I certainly hope I can change some of mine.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      5 years ago from New York City

      Habitual acts to me is a somewhat self trained condition, maybe a glitch of sorts for some folks who tend to perform repetitious errors as a form of habit, and then there are the skilled excessive compulsive types who literally format their habits into a sort of well thought out display and or performance of sorts.

      I will definitely check out that cool book you shared with us here, thanks for this cool hub, and for answering a Q&A question of mine.

      Thumbs up! & sharing with my followers, also elsewhere hopefully it will send more folks your way. Welcome to hubpages Gina.

    • Gina145 profile imageAUTHOR

      Gina145 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      @aa lite You're probably right about that.

      I haven't finished reading the book yet, but the focus seems to be on replacing bad habits with good ones rather than just eliminating the bad habits. Charles Duhigg believes we develop habits because doing a specific action leads to a consequence we find rewarding, so we need to learn to associate the same reward with a different action.

    • aa lite profile image

      aa lite 

      5 years ago from London

      Very interesting, personally I think a lot of our behaviour is just down to habit, even things we feel are an integral part of 'who we are'. If we could just focus on changing a few bad ones, the universe would be a much better place!

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