Book Summary: The Power Of Habit
Author: Charles Duhigg
About the author: Charles Duhigg is a writer for New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic. He was also an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine for over a decade. His life was always like chasing stories, Emailing and rushed meetings. He was really unhappy with himself and wanted to do more. He then asked his friend who was an extremely productive professor about how to become more productive. He discovered that productivity was a vast concept and he became aware of his knowledge of productivity.
About the book: The book Power Of Habit is a book of collection of knowledge from hundreds of people, researchers, professors, and interviews. The book explains to the reader the science behind habit formation. The book says that habits are the fundamental principle that brings about change in the person. If you want to bring change in yourself you have to start by changing a single habit. Then with the implementation and practice of the new habit, you will see the change in your life and your surroundings.
1. What is a Habit?
When you woke up this morning, what did you do first? Did you hop in the shower, check your email, or grab a doughnut from the kitchen counter? Did you
brush your teeth before or after you toweled off? Tie the left or right shoe first? What did you say to your kids on your way out the door? Which route did
you drive to work? When you got to your desk, did you deal with email, chat with a colleague, or jump into writing a memo? Salad or hamburger for lunch?
When you got home, did you put on your sneakers and go for a run, or pour yourself a drink and eat dinner in front of the TV?
The author says that everything you are is just a mass of habits. In your life, from your childhood, you start to acquire habits. These habits form and deform but will stay with you forever. These habits might be good or bad and can affect a large portion of your life.
Until you decide to change them.
Before changing them you need to understand how habits work.
Habits are a set of actions that you take on a daily basis. These actions then are stored in your brain independent of your conscious brain. They are not affected by your memory. Even if you lost your memory someday your habits will remain with you and you will perform them as you used to do before.
It is like a reacting system of the human brain. Reacting means independent of thinking.
This system in your brain is a set of actions that your body will perform even if you stopped thinking about it.
Example: When you ride a bicycle. Do you constantly think about moving your legs?
You just sit on the bicycle and begin to pedal. After a few seconds, you might not even realize that you are peddling. The same goes when you are riding a car or bike.
Even when you are making your coffee and talking on your phone. unconsciously you will know where the coffee maker is and where you have kept your coffee beans.
Did you know?
That if you take a walk every day in the morning and you follow the same route everytime you take a walk. Even if you were to lose your memory on the way. You still can find your way back home.
(Comment down below if you knew about this.)
2. How habit is formed?
If you know where you always keep your car keys will you keep searching until you find them?
Obviously not.Because you know that it’s your habit to keep your car keys in your room beside your bed. (Or where ever you keep your car keys)
Similarly when you learn something new like Driving. When you are a beginner you have to learn everything from how to move a steering wheel, how to operate a break and how to shift the gears, right?
But when you have a little practice you unconsciously drive to your office or to your home.
These are the process of habit formation. When you do something on a constant basis your brain records it as a program and stores it somewhere. When you begin to do the same tasks the brain then starts the program in the background so it does not have to spend much of its processing energy.
So when does your brain knows to load a specific program?
When you want to start an application on the computer what do you do? Double click the application icon.
Similarly, the brain has set some triggers that when activated it loads the program.
These triggers might be a thought or a sound.
3. How to break the Habit?
Do you eat a lot of junk food?
I sure did. A lot of junk food.
I ate a lot of junk food when I was younger. Every day I would ask my mother to buy me junk food to eat. I even started saving money every day to eat food at a nearby food vendor. I became fat, lazy and very obsessed with the food.
Because it would give me satisfaction, the kind of pleasure that I didn`t use to get from any other thing at that time. But soon enough this habit changed.
After a year I had to move into my new house which was far away from the food vendor. It was really annoying that I had to come a long way to eat the food. It became a pain.
Soon I noticed that I stopped eating junk food because of this single change that happened in my life.
Now you don`t have to shift to a new house just to stop eating junk food. You can do other things to change your habits.
Habits are really delicate. They are formed and deformed really fast. The reason might be the change in the trigger.
What used to trigger me to go and eat the food is the smell of the food. As my house was close enough to the food vendor I could easily walk a few steps and eat. But because I could no longer smell the food as I shifted to my new house. The trigger started to disappear and then so did the habit of eating junk food.
You have to find such triggers in your routine that forces you to follow a certain type of habit. Once you find a trigger you have to change it with something good that will get you to implement new habits.
4. How to find the trigger
Searching for the trigger probably will be difficult. Because there may be more than one trigger that results in the action of the habit. It can be anything from a visual to a little sound to a person you might talk to etc.
To find a trigger You have to constantly monitor yourself. When you start taking the habit you have to understand why you are doing it. Because trigger works on rewards.
If you are having an urge to do something there might be a reward you will get in exchange for doing it. It can be money, pleasure or something else.
So instead of going through hundreds of triggers and wasting your energy and time. You can find The reward behind it.
If you find what motivates or what thing makes you do something. You know how your habit is working and you will be able to stop doing it.
If you are procrastinating on something. It might be because the reward of completing the task is less than the reward you are getting for procrastinating.
If you change the reward for the task with something important then you will be able to overcome the procrastination.
This the end of the book summary of the book The Power Of Habit.