As the day draws to a close and it gets dark enough to turn on the twinkle lights and curl up in bed, I naturally look for a book to read. But which one? My shelves have lots of choices.
The Power of Habit is a highly inspirational book penned by journalist and author Charles Duhigg. At first glance, its colorful yellow and red cover draws your hands to its pages, but there’s much more to it than just fancy trappings.
Our lives revolve on habits. Humans have natural-born habits engrained into their lifestyle, as simple as having meals three times a day. But several, even dozens of times each day we make the same choices to do something, whether or not they be healthy choices. These are habits. Many people struggle with destructive habits, such as drinking, smoking, or overeating. People burdened with these habits generally seek for a solution; a way to get rid of the habit.
The secret that Duhigg reveals in his book is that you can never trash a habit. It can only be replaced. How?
A habit is made up of three steps: a cue, a routine, and a reward. With overeaters, for instance, the cue could be hunger pangs in the middle of the afternoon. The routine might be reaching for a chip bag, buying a burger, or finding some other source of junk food. The reward is temporary fullness from unhealthy food full of enticing grease and salt that dies away and requires more.
In The Power of Habit, Duhigg outlines the cue, routine, and reward, and shows that the only way to conquer a habit is to replace it. Specifically, the routine. In the example of the overeater, when he feels the hunger pangs and the automatic craving for junk food (the cue), he should instead eat some fruit or fix a healthy meal (the routine) that will result in a fuller stomach and healthier body (reward).
Throughout the book, there are countless examples of how people have turned their lives around with this method; studies on how it has been used in the market; and how major decisions that affect many people were based on it. Duhigg’s writing style is quick, to the point, and changes between each example like a story working together that keeps the reader engaged. Although I do not condone a few of his examples that may be objectionable, these take up only a small fraction of his book and don’t affect the overall point. The book is easy to read and holds a certain spice that adds character to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Power of Habit. I read through and discussed it with one of my brothers, and I’m impressed with how down-to-earth and useful Duhigg’s advice is. He followed up with each of his examples with how they tie in with the cue-routine-reward cycle, and brought it all together at the end in how they’ve helped myriads of readers in different ways.
The Power of Habit can be instrumental in your life, too. Do you struggle with a habit that weighs down on you and makes a huge impact on your lifestyle? You don’t have to go through a lot of rigmarole to get rid of it completely. By thinking a little more carefully about that habit and making a conscious choice, Charles Duhigg shows you that you can change a bad habit for the better. With practice, you can make those good choices without having to deliberately refuse the wrong way.
I highly recommend The Power of Habit as a greatly inspirational book for the problems of work or home, or even if you’re only looking for a new book after you’ve exhausted your own shelves (ideally to read curled up in bed on a rainy day, if you’re a romantic like me). You won’t regret it.