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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change Paperback – 7 Feb 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books (7 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847946240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847946249
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,217 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

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Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Change Agent on 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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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Phil Nind on 25 April 2012
Format: Paperback
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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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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 20 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is not an easy book to describe because Charles Duhigg offers such a wealth of information in so many different areas. For example:

o What a habit is...and isn't
o What the habit loop is and does
o How and why we form good and bad habits
o Why it is so difficult to sustain good habits and so easy to sustain bad ones
o Which external influences most effectively manipulate both good and bad habits
o How to defend good habits
o How to break bad habits
o How and why our habits reveal our values

In Part One, Duhigg focuses on how habits emerge within individual lives; in the next, he examines the habits of successful companies and organizations; and then in Part Three, he looks at the habits of societies. "We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We know how to break them into parts and rebuild them to our specifications. We know how to make people eat less, exercise more, work more efficiently, and live healthier lives. Transforming a habit isn't necessarily easy or quick. It isn't always simple. But it is possible. And now we know why."

There in a brief passage is the essence of what motivated Duhigg to write this book and also perhaps, just perhaps, a sufficient reason for people who read it to then rebuild their habits to their expectations, based on what they have learned from the book.

One of Duhigg's most valuable insights (among the several dozen he shares) is that organizations as well as individuals can develop bad habits or allow them to develop. For example, tolerating incivility and thus condoning it, conducting performance evaluations unfairly and/or inconsistently, and under-valuing employees and/or customers.
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