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Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick [Paperback]

Jeremy Dean
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Dec 2013
At least one third of our waking hours are lived on autopilot. But habits of the mind do not have to control us-we can steer them. Drawing on the latest research, psychologist Jeremy Dean explains why seemingly easy habits can prove difficult to form and how to take charge of your brain's routines to make any change stick. Making Habits, Breaking Habits explains that it is possible to bend habits to your will-and become happier, more creative, and more productive.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc; First Trade Paper Edition edition (26 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306822628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306822629
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Psychologist Jeremy Dean is the founder and author of the popular website 'PsyBlog' /), with over 64,000 email and RSS subscribers and upwards of 1 million monthly hits from 700,000 unique visitors.

The site analyses--with wit, clarity, and erudition--psychological studies that are relevant to everyday life. Topics have included how memory works, self-control, methods for boosting creativity and the psychology of work.

Dean launched PsyBlog in 2004, when he noticed a dearth of smart, readable news for those who like psychological insights backed up by science. Read the world over, the site has been featured in the following media outlets: BBC News, The New York Times ('Health Around the Web'), The Los Angeles Times, Wired, NPR, The Guardian, and The London Times.

Dean's first degree was in law, but after a career in the Internet industry he began studying psychology. He has now racked up two higher degrees in psychology and is currently working towards a doctorate.

His current book is called 'Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes that Stick'.

Product Description


The Bookseller, "Editor's Pick," 10/12/12 "Sensible and very readable...By far the most useful of this month's New You offerings." Kirkus Reviews, 1/1/13 "Making changes does take longer than we may expect--no 30-day, 30-pounds-lighter quick fix--but by following the guidelines laid out by Dean, readers have a decent chance at establishing fulfilling, new patterns." Publishers Weekly, 12/10/12 "An accessible and informative guide for readers to take control of their lives." "Bookworm Sez" syndicated review "By helping us understand what makes us tick and why, author Jeremy Dean avoids platitudes and misty advice to give his readers the tools they need to stop being frustrated by change and lack thereof. He advocates patience and dispels a lot of myths about why we do the things we do (or don't), explaining why our willpower fails us or why we find some habits easy to make. That's helpful, and could make a fix that sticks...This book...would be advantageous to anyone who's serious about changing behavior." Curled Up with a Good Book, 1/6/13 "Loaded with surprising information about the brain and human behavior, this book that lays out a strategy for taking charge of ourselves. We probably can't beat all our habits forever, but Making Habits, Breaking Habits offers a battle plan that allows us to know the enemy and sometimes evade it." Philadelphia Tribune, 1/6/13 "Dean busts the myths to finally explain why seemingly easy habits, like eating an apple a day, can be surprisingly difficult to form, and how to take charge of your brain's natural 'autopilot' to make any change stick...Witty and intriguing, Making Habits, Breaking Habits shows how behavior is more than just a product of what you think." Spirituality & Practice, 1/15/13 "[A] fascinating book...Dean demonstrates a knack for cutting through generalities and cutting to the heart of the matter. Making Habits, Breaking Habits will shed new light on your own private and public behavior and the many quests for change that you undertake in your everyday life.", 1/17/13 "What really stands out in Dean's the insight behind habits and their unconscious nature and often, their benefits...Full of anecdotes and interesting studies, Making Habits, Breaking Habits is an engaging read.", 1/17/13 "Dean argues convincingly that habits are essentially automatic pilots...The prescriptive part of self-help books is where many of them fall down. Dean's is better than most...The book reads like one in which Dean primarily shares his own fascination with a variety of research projects of various kinds, pausing occasionally to relate this study or that back to the whole issue of forming and changing habits. And there is nothing wrong with being a bit discursive, especially when the underlying material is as interesting as much of it is here." DaySpa, January 2013 "Analyzes the phenomenon of habits, and breaks them down so they can be fully understood--and ultimately managed." Truth, January 2013 "Dean helps you understand the psychology behind your habits--both good and bad--and gives you the information you need to kick a bad habit and finally keep your New Year's resolution.", February 2013 "This is serious psychology and an often fascinating look at the way habits are formed, reinforced, and strengthened throughout our lives...Smoking, drinking, and comparable bad behaviors can be changed and this book can help anyone seeking to make that change." ForeWord, Brain Pickings, 1/5/14 "Remarkably insightful and functionally helpful in its entirety." January Magazine, "Best Books of 2013," 1/3/14 "Though Dean is currently working towards a doctorate in psychology, his voice is casual, friendly and smart. More importantly for a book of this nature, he knows how to break his material down and present it in a way that is not only logical, but also stays interesting and connected...An entertaining and deeply interesting book. And a huge bonus for some readers: it actually has the potential to totally change your life." Hudson Valley News, 1/15/2014 "This book is exceptionally reader-friendly." TITLE: Making Habits, Breaking Habits Sarasota Herald Tribune, 1/28/14 "[A] compelling new book."

Book Description

The founder of the hugely popular PsyBlog demonstrates how to bend habits to your will

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring read 15 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Straight forward, easy to understand, description of why we do what we do day after day without thinking. A scientific book without the jargon together with numerous relevant examples to explain every concept. Unusually for such a book, the author is English and so the examples relate to everyday life in the UK: no baseball here.
Every aspect of habits appears to be covered: why we form them, their value as well as their annoyance, how to make the good ones stronger and how to sidestep the worst.
An excellent, easy, read for everyone. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Making no false promises, this book is very much in touch with reality. I would have given it 5 stars if it had contained more bullet points, more summaries, more short focus sections, and if the writing itself were more tightly focussed. This is a shame, because the book, which discusses all our more routine behaviours in an extremely useful way, has the right contents to make it one of the best in its genre.

Jeremy Dean writes for PsyBlog, which puts all of the most recent psychological research on the table for everyone to see. I've been a fan of his work for some time now and I wanted to buy the book as a thank-you for his continuing good work. The contents of book are fantastic. Yes, a lot of it is fairly obvious stuff, but if you are mapping out human behaviour this will always be inevitable; what it gives us is a useful map which enables us to see where we are more clearly. Rather than choosing to focus on quirky behaviour, or choosing to act as a self-help guru and setting rules, Dean has assembled all the most-relevant-to-life experiments in this book, and although the style is a little wordy, it comes across as 'an engaging chat with a friend'.

I think that most people would get a lot out of the book; the material inside it is among the best you'll find. But rather than reading cover to cover I'd suggest picking it up for ten minutes every day - this way you could mentally chew over what you've read, gradually enabling you to build a picture of why you do what you do and giving you ideas on how you could effect change where needed.

Oddly enough, the book might make more real difference to your life than others BECAUSE it focusses on the 95% of more useful ordinary behaviour (with quite a lot of quirks in itself) rather than the 5% of sensationalist, but less useful behaviour that other authors select in order to sell books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative 18 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the best kind of self-help book. It doesn't offer easy answers or 'new age' solutions. Instead, it draws on the latest research to show how habits are formed and, crucially, how they can be changed. The author acknowledges how difficult this can be, but he offers sensible advice with a sound scientific base.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
The material provided is based on what Jeremy Dean learned from recent and extensive research on (a) how and why we form habits that are both book and bad, (b) the range of timeframe that process involves, (c) why it is so difficult to sustain good habits and break bad habits, and (d) what all this reveals about human nature that will help us to accelerate personal growth and professional development.

In essence, good and bad habits are repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. With regard to the aforementioned research, Dean observes, "Three characteristics have emerged: firstly, we perform habits automatically without much conscious deliberation. Secondly, habitual behaviors provide little emotional response by themselves. Thirdly, habits are strongly rooted in the situations in which they occur. We also know that they can vary considerably in how long they take to form. Questions remain. For example, how much control do we have over our habits? Do we control them or do they control us? If we want to make a change, how easy will it be? Dean addresses these and other questions, citing research revelations and what -- in his opinion -- these revelations suggest.

Here is Dallas near the downtown area, there is a farmer's market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that same spirit, I offer a few brief excerpts that (I hope) will suggest the thrust and flavor of Dean's presentation of material.

o "The problem for making and breaking habits is that so much is happening in the unconscious mind. Since the unconscious is generally like the Earth's core, impenetrable and unknowable, we can't access it directly. This means that deeply held goals and desires can come into play without our realizing.
Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy, but some good sources 20 April 2013
By Matthew Leitch VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I nearly stopped reading before I reached the practical suggestions because the long stuff at the start about how important habits are was fundamentally flawed. As I read I realised that many of the phenomena the author was taking as habits weren't really habits at all. He also kept saying that habits are unconscious, which isn't always true.

So, not a good start. But just as I was about to give up he got to some research on implementation intentions and things really perked up. He had found some really good studies to talk about and I learned some new and useful things.

Unfortunately, he didn't give enough detail on the studies to allow me a sense of their quality so I'll have to find the original articles. He also was happy to rely on single, unreplicated studies, without giving any warnings. That's disappointing.

Although at one point stressing that resisting temptation and changing habits are not the same thing, the author soon returned to confusing the two!

Overall, not a great book, but the outstanding research talked about in the implementation intentions chapter added two stars to my rating and made it worth the Kindle price. if you're interested in that the you can get most of it by Googling for Peter Gollwitzer, the man behind the implementation intentions idea and a proper scientist.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 10 hours ago by Anjela Dunbar
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes sense....
Makes sense....
Published 9 days ago by K
5.0 out of 5 stars nice and simple!
liked the simplicity with which the ideas are explained. I would recommend it to both young and old to better understand ourselves and what does and does not make our habits.
Published 2 months ago by Common sense
4.0 out of 5 stars valuable and enjoyable read
Is fascinating dean likes his evidence,this is fine by me but after a while accounts of tests,experiments and scientific papers start to blur a bit. Read more
Published 4 months ago by N. Bull
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful information here
This book explained why good intentions and initial action often peters out. The author also offered strategies to prevent this happening. Read more
Published 6 months ago by sjw1
4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good
Practical and readable for the most part. Gives you the feeling that change is possible - not a small thing for a book of this type.
Published 7 months ago by c
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring
I usually enjoy books like this but I found the writing style tedious. It did not say anything I had not read before.
Published 11 months ago by Fiona Brinkworth
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, overly academic and bleeding obvious
It was painful reading this book.

I could tell the author was a typical middle class white British professor who had been reading academic papers his whole life, with no... Read more
Published 12 months ago by T. Chigirov
5.0 out of 5 stars great and apply book
I bought this book to help with areas in my life that I was struggling with. What it did was help solidify what I already new and encourage me on to change. Read more
Published 13 months ago by emma middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!
I read this book in less than 48 hours and found it so helpful to back up my recent Hypnotherapy session. Accurate, inspired and witty. highly recommended!
Published 14 months ago by Ian Simmins
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