Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of Habit - Book Notes

I recently read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do inLife and Business by Charles Duhigg as my January nonfiction book (one of my ongoing goals for 2015). I thought it had some wonderful information and tips for changing my behavior. This year I really want to work on losing some weight and keeping it off so hopefully these tips will help me.  I would recommend this book to people who are interested in changing their behavior in some way.

Here are some important quotes that I want to remember from the book.

  • 1.     Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
  • 2.     When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.
  • 3.     If we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors – if we take control of the habit loop- we can force those bad tendencies into the background.
  • 4.     By learning to observe the cues and rewards, though we can change the routines.
  • 5.     Craving…is what makes cues and rewards work. That craving is what powers the habit loop.
  • 6.     Research on dieting says creating new food habits requires a predetermined cue- such as planning menus in advance- and simple rewards for dieters when they stick to their intentions.
  • 7.     …as we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brains that starts the habit loop spinning.
  • 8.     This is how new habits are created: by pulling together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.
  • 9.     But to overpower the habit, we must recognize which craving is driving the behavior.
  • 10. And their cravings for that reward…crowded out the temptation to drop the diet. The craving drove the habit loop.
  • 11. Cravings are what drive habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier
  • 12. Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.
  • 13. You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.
  • 14. If you identify the cues and rewards, you can change the routine.
  • 15. Once people learned how to believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.
  • 16. But we do know that for habits to permanently change people must believe that change is feasible. 
  • 17. We know that a habit cannot be eradicated – it must, instead, be replaced.
  • 18. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.
  • 19. If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group. Belief is essential, and it grows out of a communal experience, even if that community is only as large as two people.
  • 20. …habits have the power to start a chain reaction…
  • 21. …people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work.
  • 22. Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as “small wins.” They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.
  • 23. …small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves.
  • 24. …willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.
  • 25. …the best way to strengthen willpower and give students a leg up…is to make it a habit.
  • 26. Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle…and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.
  • 27. Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits.
  • 28. …you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it.
  • 29. For an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling.
  • 30. …to modify a habit, you must decide to change it.
  • 31. …the will to believe is the most important ingredient in creating belief in change.
  • 32. If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.
  • 33. …your habits are what you choose them to be.
  • 34. We need to see small victories to believe a long battle will be won.
  • 35. No matter how strong our willpower, we’re guaranteed to fall back into our old ways once in a while.
  • 36. But if we plan for those relapses – if we take steps to make sure those slips don’t become a habit – it’s easier to get back on track.
  • 37. Identify the routine, experiment with rewards, isolate the cue, have a plan.
  • 38. When craving hits: note the following – location, time, emotional state, other people, immediately preceding action.

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