Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review: The Power of Habit

It has often been said that we are all creatures of habit. Charles Duhigg's book "The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business" explores the nature of our habits, the benefits and problems with habits and how to either change or develop them.

He begins by exploring how habits work in individuals and why they can be good things in that habits enable us to get things done with minimal effort. He then looks at how people can go about creating new habits or changing old ones. It was this part of the book which I found to be both most interesting and practical. The explanation of how the "cue - habit - reward" loop works on the brain and case studies on techniques to break it was clear, easy to follow and practical. I ended up taking a look at some of my own habits (bad ones according to mrs traineeinvestor), picked one and am attempting to use what I picked up in this book to change it. The possibilities of helping my children to form better habits has also occurred to me.

The second part of the book looks at the habits of organisations including case studies from Alcoa and Starbucks. These were interesting but of less practical use given the proximity off my retirement.

Part three looks at changes in society, drawing on examples from the civil rights movement and an American church group. It also considers the question of free will and personal responsibility for our habits.

The apendix entitled "a reader's guide to using these ideas" was useful but didn't really add anything to what had been covered in part one.

Overall, I found The Power of Habit to be one of the best self help books I have read. Highly recommended.

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