Charles Duhaig’s ‘The Power of Habit’ is a powerful book as it lays bare the science behind how habits are formed and why they seem so difficult to change.
Charles claims that scientific studies show that all habits can be modeled as a three part system with cues, routine and rewards.
And the key to changing a habit is to replace the routine with another less harmful or productive one while keeping the cues and rewards same.
Charles argues that habits can never be fully eliminated, they can only be replaced.
The appendix offers a practical guide to changing habits but also cautions readers that there is no sure shot way that works for every habit. If you read nothing else but just the appendix, you would understand what Charles is fundamentally trying to convey.
The case study of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is eye opening. The importance of groups in creating belief that bad habits can be overcome is the biggest takeaway from this case study.
Charles also gives us a sneak into the way big corporations are using data to influence consumer behavior by studying their buying habits and finding patterns.
One chapter also explores how mass movements are created and sustained using social habits. Charles argues that movements are born out of strong ties and weak ties operating together and they are sustained by habits that the community follows.
The chapter on neurology of free will throws light on cases of sleep terror and compulsive gambling where our free will seems to cease to exist.
Overall a very good read, very practical though some things like the science of mass movements looks a little overstretching of the domain of habits.
Would recommend to anyone looking to change some bad habits or develop some good ones. A book worth going back to whenever you are dealing with your habits.
Will try some principles in my life..hope they work well.