The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit is another book about how our brains work. Instead of insights and creativity though, The Power of Habit deals with things like, you guessed it, habits and addiction and free will. This book was separated into what could have easily been three shorter books based on different levels of habitual action – personal, small groups (such as a business), and communities.

The book asserts that habits govern almost every aspect of our lives, and can be broken down into a basic structure of: a cue, a routine, and a reward. It argues that while habits can be powerful, they can also be molded and changed to suit our desires and goals – and all that one needs to do it implement the basic structure. To change old habits into new ones, use the same cue and reward, but change the routine. For instance, a smoker would first catalogue themselves to understand the cues that make them smoke, and how they feel afterwards, or the reward they get from smoking. Once understanding this, they can forcibly practice a new routine after the understood cues to achieve the same reward. Simple in theory, but in practice, each individual is different. I feel like I can relate to the process however, as every morning when I get into my truck and get ready to go to work – I start thinking about going to Tim Hortons. Getting into my truck to go to work is my cue, getting a hot coffee and greasy breakfast sandwhich is my routine, and being warm and full is my reward. It’s powerful enough that as soon as I sit down, I start thinking about Timmies. I’m confident that I can change this practice to start saving calories and money.

But alas, my battery is running low, and after typing five other review, I’m getting tired of talking and thinking about books. Of the three sections of this book, I found the personal topics to be more inspiring than the rest (it’s easier to control myself than others), but did enjoy the other two. It was also interesting at the end when the author started talking about the implications of habits, and who is actually in control of themselves and when. For example, and man with a history of sleepwalking had, for the first time, a night terror (where all but the most primal part of your brain are shutdown and non-functioning – but your body can still move) and strangled his wife in his sleep because he thought he was grappling with an attacker in the house – was contrasted next to a lady who gambled compulsively and lost her house, he savings, and her inheritance. The murderer was found innocent while the gambler was found guilty, for reasons I’ll let the book explain. One thing that BLEW MY FUCKING MIND, was that it mentioned people with Parkinsons disease, and a large class action law-suit and many individual trials are ongoing, as their medication does something to their brain, and makes them have nearly uncontrollable temptations to gamble – this blew me away because I recalled working at the casino, and seeing lots of people (more concentrated than I see them at other public places) with Parkinsons on the table games and slot machines, which made me feel bad.

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