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on 18 March 2013
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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on 15 March 2013
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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on 19 November 2016
This book is very ESSENTIAL for anyone looking to control their behaviours in order to obtain some kind of result. The book is broken down into very logical, as well as relatable, sections that allow the reader to digest the importance of HABITS in your life and how you can take control of them. My favourite section was that on "happy HABITS" because this is the only book written about HABITS that includes solid advice on how to cultivate your desired habits but still maintain the spice of your life. The author delivered the, what would usually be at least, complicated experimental data/results in a simple manner and gracefully used it as a basis to support the advice given in the book on many occasions!

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on 2 July 2013
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 to little real life/practical experience.

If I buy a self-help book, I want you to give me solutions - quick and to the point. This book is extremely descriptive - the author gives tons of irrelevant examples - such as why Einstein was more creative than his students.

This is not what I want to know. I want to know what exactly a habit is and how specifically I can form a good habit and get rid of a bad one - quickly and effectively. That's why I like American writers - they speak to the point: the problem is A. In order to overcome it, you need to do B, C and D. Failing that's try Z. Give specific, relevant and precise examples. Start a new chapter.

As such, this book is an exercise is verbosity. It is full of sentences like: 'Research has shown that the stronger the habit, the longer it takes to overcome it' following which the author discusses at length the participants of the research, samples etc. I am sorry but you don't have to be a genius to figure this out. Or: 'Happy people tend to focus on positive thoughts'. Yea - butter is buttery.

I am a practical busy successful man who needs solutions not some ephemeral 'research'. As such, I regret I wasted time reading this book.
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on 27 March 2013
Well worth the read.
I would have liked to have given 4 stars. However although the information is interesting and relevant it is never clearly summarised in the way I would expect of a presentation and argument of this nature. This is of even more importance when such 'text' books are to be read on a Kindle that despite it's annotating features is not as easily roamed for past references or remembered passages as a print copy.
Mr. Dean has, in my opinion, been let down by his Editor.
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on 24 June 2013
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. I think when you pay out for something you are far more motivated anyway to apply what you read..but maybe that is just me..
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2013
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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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. Not only this, but our conscious intentions to change prove too weak in the face of the behaviors we perform efficiently and automatically, with only minimal awareness." (Page 50)

o "What we know about how humans react to virtual environments is still in its infancy, but we can be sure we will be offered up new online services tailor-made to engage our habits. In the battle between intention and habit, we need to be able to work out who is winning: who is master and who is slave." (127)

o "Assuming you're motivated, the first problem for any creative goal is coming up with the concepts to combine. Psychologists have found that using analogy is one handy way of finding concepts to set up in opposition; unfortunately, good analogies are hard to come by. Think about Einstein's vision of a man falling off a roof; it seems simple once you're heard it, but taken in the context of the highly complex problem [i.e. how gravity works], it was a master stroke. The key is envisaging the problem in a way that makes analogies easier to pick out." (203)

o "Many great creative geniuses over history have identified their weakness and addressed it. Often, it's distraction...So if your mind wanders when you should be analyzing the details of your problem, then, don't worry, you're in good company. Just remember that all these great minds [e.g. Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust, Arthur Schopenhauer] had to find a way to balance their playful and analytical sides to develop truly creative habits." (212)

o " Making or breaking a habit is really just the start. To develop a truly fulfilling and satisfying good habit, it's about more than just repetition and maintenance; it's about finding new ways to continually adjust and tweak habits to keep them new; to avoid mind wandering and less pleasurable emotional states that accompany it." (227)

Frankly, although I have read and then re-read this book and appreciate the importance of the information, insights, and counsel that Dean provides, I still need to become much more effective in terms of developing and then sustaining habits that are in my best-interest while avoiding or breaking those that are not. At least for me, that process will probably continue until the end of my life. I agree with Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." I also believe that mediocrity, then, is not an act, but a habit. To a significant extent, our lives are defined by the consequences of the decisions we make...including decisions to do nothing.

It could also be said that our decisions determine patterns of attitude and behavior. In this context, I am reminded of Carol Dweck's observation that people tend to embrace one of two mindsets: growth or fixed. The former affirms almost unlimited potentiality; the latter denies it. That is what Henry Ford had in mind long ago when suggesting, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right."

When concluding his immensely sensible, indeed valuable book, Jeremy Dean suggests, "The challenge is to work out which habits keep leading to dead ends and which habits lead to interesting new experiences, happiness, and a sense of personal satisfaction." Yes, it really is that easy...and that difficult.
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on 20 February 2013
This book is marketed in the self-help field with its subtitle "How to make changes that stick".

However, it is one of those psychology books that catalogue endless dubious experiments by other psychologists, and is short on practical and pithy advice and exercises for changing habits.

Interesting in its own way, but for practical ideas to help change habits of thought and action there are far more useful tomes by the likes of Stuart Wilde and Tony Robbins among many others.
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on 5 May 2014
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.
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