At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success are about understanding how habits work. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.”
This book is grounded in so much sound scientific evidence it’ll make your head spin. From case studies to interviews, to on-sight research projects at some of the world’s greatest companies—Duhigg worked hard not to leave any stone unturned when it came to helping us understand the mechanics of habits.
Habits, by definition, are choices that we all make deliberately at some point—and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.
At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink or when to go for a jog. But then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of our neurology…
And by understanding how it happens, you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.
So, are you ready to dive into learning how to make that happen? Let’s begin with our first big idea…
Habits are your brain’s way of saving energy. Given you spend around 6 of your 16 waking hours doing things you’re not aware of, it might be worth understanding what happens here.
Duhigg discovered that at the root of all habits, like drinking your coffee every morning, lies a simple 3-part loop.
The cue is what triggers you to do the habit. e.g:- sitting down at your kitchen table to have breakfast every morning at 7 AM.
The routine is the behavior you then automatically engage in, which, for drinking coffee, might be to go over to your coffeemaker, turn it on and press the “large cup” button.
Naturally, the more often you reinforce a habit, the more embedded in your brain it gets.
In the case of the coffee, you might crave it the second you sit down at your kitchen table, and when you can’t have it that day, because the machine broke, you’ll probably get very grumpy and buy one later at work.
The trick to changing a habit then is to switch the routine and leave everything else intact.
Duhigg calls this the golden rule.
If you’re trying to get off caffeine, the tweak is incredibly simple: switch to decaf (like my “friend” Replacing Rick).
You’ll still have the entire experience from A to Z, but instead of pressing a button you’re now pouring hot water over decaf coffee powder, and voilà, you won’t miss caffeine for even a single day.
Not all habits are created equal and Duhigg says willpower is by far one of the most important ones, as it helps us do better in all aspects of life.
Having been to the moon and back in terms of willpower research, I don’t want to tell you to eat right, sleep enough and exercise regularly. My friend Colin is much better at that.
Instead, here are 3 uncommon ways in which you can grow your total willpower capacity over time:
A. Do something that requires a lot of discipline. For example, a tough wake-up regimen or strict diet will make you constantly practice delaying gratification and thus give you more willpower to exert throughout your day.
B. Plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. Even just thinking about your boss yelling at you before it ever happens will help you not lose your cool when it does.
Book summaries mostly ...
You can’t possibly call yourself a habit junkie and not know this book. It’s THE BEST book about habits.
Curious about different takes? Check out our The Power of Habit Summary book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash users.
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