The Power of Habit

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Duhigg, Charles

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Power of Habit
Random House, Inc.

The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times


A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

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.

Praise for The Power of Habit

“Sharp, provocative, and useful.”—Jim Collins

“Few [books] become essential manuals for business and living. The Power of Habit is an exception. Charles Duhigg not only explains how habits are formed but how to kick bad ones and hang on to the good.”Financial Times

“A flat-out great read.”—David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

“You’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

“Entertaining . . . enjoyable . . . fascinating . . . a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.”The New York Times Book Review

Baker & Taylor
Identifies the neurological processes behind behaviors, explains how self-control and success are largely driven by habits, and shares scientifically-based guidelines for achieving personal goals and overall well-being by adjusting specific habits.

& Taylor

Identifying the neurological processes behind behaviors while explaining that self-control and success are largely driven by habits, a guide by a Yale-educated investigative reporter for The New York Times shares scientifically based guidelines for achieving personal goals and overall well-being by adjusting specific habits.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400069286
Branch Call Number: 158.1 D
Characteristics: xx, 371 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Jun 04, 2014
  • cglasser rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Interesting and quick read. Some of the information was familiar from other books on similar subjects (I think I remembered some of it from "Switch: How To Change When Change Is Hard" - though I liked this book better). Helpful for making change in personal life and business.

Jun 03, 2014
  • illuzhin rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Nothing revelatory--perhaps because I've seen bits and pieces referenced around the Web--but an interesting and engaging read nonetheless.

May 26, 2014
  • CrossedStitches rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book made me want to try and change some of my habits. The author used his own experience to draw you into the book, so he could share stories and studies about how habits come to be and how they impact our lives. A must read for those who want to find a new ways to look at problems that need solving.

Apr 16, 2014
  • MustafaAlmosawi rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I may never quote Margret Thatcher again. "Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become."

Jan 12, 2014
  • JDC rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was interesting because it was about so much more than our personal habits. I learned a lot about things like why Rosa Parks succeeded in changing things when others before her, who had done exactly the same thing, were not successful.
Fascinating and informative.

Nov 25, 2013
  • JCLJulieT rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Excellent book! Really pertinent in a lot of ways: there are sections on personal habits and change, group habits and change, organizational and societal - so, really, I think there's something in here for everyone.

Oct 21, 2013
  • KRockstar10 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Very interesting but a bit dry in places. I was definitely intrigued by the way the author explains the habit formation and how to break a habit...I know I have a few I would love to break! Working on applying some of these techniques to my own life

Jul 20, 2013
  • indiaholden rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Duhigg manages an almost impossible feat and writes a life-changing, scientifically solid page turner that is massively inspiring, to boot.

If you let this information in and apply it to your own life, rather than approaching in with an attitude of "well, that's interesting to know," you can have the life you want, especially if you realize that the only thing that's keeping you from that is all the things you won't/can't do.

Now you have the tools to change that to "can/will." This is, there can be no doubt about it, a self help book, but not a "self-help" book.
Through understanding the mechanics of habit forming and alteration, you can design any habit that will support what you want in life and repurpose any habit that is stopping you. If that's not helping you, then I must be misunderstanding the meaning of "help" and "self".

I'm already using this knowledge to my advantage. I'm on day 20 of a 21-day spiritual practice challenge that involves 2 hrs a day in prayer, contemplation and journaling, and for the very first time of my life, I am getting 8 hrs of sleep every night. Staying up unhealthily late my whole life since I was 9 years old (blanket and flashlight) was just a habit. Who knew? I've tried these endeavors many times and it is what I'm reading in this book that has allowed me to stick to it. Don't miss this book; it will be one of the most important ones you'll ever read if you bring the proper mindset to it which is to take what you read seriously and apply it to your life. Have a blast!

Jun 22, 2013
  • srmechs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A lot of interesting information about habits – how we form them, how they persist and why they are difficult to change. Well written. Useful.

May 18, 2013
  • mcanderton rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Duhigg does an excellent job of illustrating how habits dominate our lives, allow businesses to thrive and fail, as well as help societies function and change. You will never think of your own habits the same way again.

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Jan 18, 2015
  • ALEXIS C SWEARINGEN rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"The behaviors that occur unthinkingly are evidence of our truest selves" -Aristotle


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