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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change [Paperback]

Charles Duhigg
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Feb 2013

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation's largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren't destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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Frequently Bought Together

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change + The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It + Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books (7 Feb 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1847946240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847946249
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"In this fascinating book, Charles Duhigg reveals the myriad ways in which our habits shape our lives. Do you want to know why Febreze became a bestselling product? Or how the science of habits can be used to improve willpower? Read this book." (Jonah Lehrer)

"Once you read this book, you’ll never look at yourself, your organisation, or your world quite the same way." (Daniel H. Pink)

"Absolutely fascinating." (Wired)

"This is a first-rate book – based on an impressive mass of research, written in a lively style and providing just the right balance of intellectual seriousness with practical advice on how to break our bad habits." (The Economist)

"Plenty of business books that try to tap into the scientific world manage to distil complicated research into readable prose. But few take the next step and become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception." (Andrew Hill Financial Times)

Book Description

An award-winning journalist reveals the secrets of why you do what you do - and how to change

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
113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Behaviouralist 17 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The first section of HABIT which focuses on individuals' behaviour is excellent, describing how sub-conscious a lot of daily decisions can be, and how to change these. I was compelled immediately to find the one key-stone habit I would try to change, by keeping the same cue and reward, but changing the actual habit, and finding ways to believe that change is possible. Case studies of drug addicts and Olympic swimmers were gripping and inspiring.

However, the second and third section were less interesting, mainly because I had come across the same material already several times -- about how will-power is a finite resource (that can, however, be incrased over time) and how companies use psychology and data linking to sell you more stuff. Some of the case studies were over-dramatised, with no clear point or conclusion (e.g. on the Kings Cross fire on the London Underground), and I was not moved to change my organisation on Monday morning.

The book is a frustrating and exciting read at the same time. I really enjoyed the journalistic style and for once, the case studies were not boring. Possibly a bit formulaeic, but entertaining. The beginning is really promising, making you sense we are at the edge of some truly transformational insight -- but then it all fizzles out. It could have done with a clearer set of conclusions rather than complexity that seems to be padding it out and only succeeds in confusing the reader.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Read 25 April 2012
This is a great book. The New York Times reporter, Charles Duhigg, tackles an important reality head on. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg suggests people succeed when they identify patterns that shape their lives--and learn how to change them. I would recommend, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, as an excellent companion to learn how break unproductive habits and master new ones.

The author's main contention is that "you have the freedom and responsibility" to remake your habits. He says "the most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager." He makes a convincing case for all this. The only problem is that's all he does. He doesn't show you how to do it. That's my only complaint.

This idea that you can change your habits draws on recent research in experimental psychology, neurology, and applied psychology. As you can see from the table of content below, Duhigg really goes after a broad range of topics. He looks at the habits of individuals, how habits operate in the brain, how companies use them, and how retailers use habits to manipulate buying habits. This provides some fascinating research and stories, such as the fact that grocery stores put fruits and vegetables at the front of the store because people who put these healthy items in their carts are more apt to buy junk food as well before they leave the store.

1. The Habit Loop - How Habits Work
2. The Craving Brain - How to Create New Habits
3. The Golden Rule of Habit Change - Why Transformation Occurs

4. Keystone Habits, or The Ballad of Paul O'Neill - Which Habits Matter Most
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was impressed by how well this book is written. The author made me think of Malcom Gladwell's writing. Captivating, insightful.

Charles Duhigg is a very good writer, who writes in a way that keeps you wanting to continue reading and, at the same time, take time aside to reflect on your own life and how you can apply what you are learning while reading this book

The subject is extremely insteresting and I would gladly recommend it for anyone looking to change something in their lives, at work or somewhere else, togheter with "Switch" from Chip and Dan Heath. Switch: How to change things when change is hard

On the not so great side, and here's the reason why I don't give it 5 stars, the practical side of the book can truly be improved. The real-life author's example of how a habit can be changed applying the framework of the book is good to understanding concepts, but changing the habit of eating a cookie in the afternoon is generally not a problem for most people. I would have preferred something more practical like the 1-page "How to make a switch" from the Heath brothers or a few more real-life examples of application of Duhigg's framework on harder-to-change habits.

All in all, good book. I can only highly recommend it. I enjoyed reading it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Between 2 - 3 Stars. Not many insights. 30 Oct 2012
By Ant
These books are becoming so formulaic. A few good ideas about habits backed up by chapter upon chapter of real life examples drawn from lab research, corporate business, and of course, American football. Having come across many of the examples before, and seeing few new insights into habit changing, I skimmed through the first half of the book, then quite uncharacteristically skipped the remainder. In a nutshell: if you have a bad habit, find a new good habit to take priority over it. A bit of jumbo jumbo about cues and rewards too. Personally I rate the book 2* as it's far too heavy on waffle, and too light on strategies and techniques to modify habit. However, those who have never encountered the topic before or who like a long narrative may find it more appealing so I will put an official rating of 3*.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
If you are interested in the nature of habits and how to change them, buy this book. I loved the way it is written. I couldn't put it down until I finished it!
Published 8 days ago by marta
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Excellent read.

The case studies and conclusions drawn are all very interesting and help the writer make his point throughout the book. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Jamie McLaughlin
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended personal development support Excellent read that...
Highly recommended personal development support
Excellent read that has given me heightened awareness to analyse my own tendencies. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Kane
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!
This book is an amazing read. For people who are looking to build their understanding of how habits work and what to do to change them this is essential. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Very factual, well researched and well written.
Published 28 days ago by mona
5.0 out of 5 stars but found it so thought provoking and enlightening decided to buy the...
I got the book from the Library, but found it so thought provoking and enlightening decided to buy the book as it is so good.
Published 28 days ago by bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read if you wanna get a deep insight on how to understand...
It did help me understanding how habits work and improved my daily life.
Published 1 month ago by Pedro Pereira
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
interesting, i integrate alot of practical use from this book in daily life
Published 1 month ago by john
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I found it 'hard going.'
Published 1 month ago by tess
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good book
Published 1 month ago by kathleenmorphew
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