Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Need New Habits--Review of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I rarely do this. But I saw an article on NPR (didn't even hear the guy on the radio) and bought the book. Immediately. The reason why?

I am self-employed and work at home. This means that I have large blocks of time available which I use as I choose. Guess what? I waste a lot of time.

So when I read about this book, I decided that what I need are some new habits. The reason this book attracted me is that it's not a self-help book. It doesn't give you a lot of cheesy advice about how to get up at 6 a.m., run around the block a few times, eat your power breakfast out of a blender and then go out and change the world.

No. This book explains the research about our habits, how we make them and how we can break them. It also uses narrative. He tells about people who were able to change habits. This is my favorite way of learning.

So, I read it. Here's what I think.

First off, I found it annoying that he starts one story, then starts another story and then another and then gives you the ending later. To my brain it seems unorganized. But I can see why he did it. Maybe his brain is bigger and can follow three stories at once.

But the rest of the book has great value.

I enjoyed reading about all the research. I love any book that teaches me more about the way my brain works. And this one did. However, it was distressing to find out that we never fully eradicate bad habits. We must overlay them with something else. This makes sense. How many people have you heard say that even after X number of years of not smoking, they still get the urge for a cigarette once in a while?

I liked the hope at the end of the book. By the way, if you want a lot of value for your money, be aware the end of the book is at about page 286.The last hundred or so pages of the book are footnotes.

I also liked the research that shows that if you manage to change one habit, you often get rid of other bad habits as well. Score! 

In the last chapter Duhigg states, "If you believe you can change--if you make it a habit--the change becomes real."Now that's worth a shot.

The book made a lot of sense. I'm going to try to apply some of this to my own life. But now, I'm going back to bed for a morning nap. That's probably the first habit I need to address.

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