Book Club: The Power of Habit- Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

What did you think of this month's book club pick The Power of Habit? Whenever I read a book about the way people think, I feel like I lose a little bit of my individuality, or perceived free will, or something. Can my thoughts and the rest of humanity's really all be the same? Surely operate differently. My brain doesn't run on a habitual circuit. But, after reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business I was once again humbled.

According to the book's author, Charles Duhigg, it's a good thing our brains run on the basis of habit. Without an automatic, habitual response to learned activities, life would become much less efficient. Say, for example, you had to think each and every morning about how to brew your daily cup of joe. You would never make it out the door to work on time. Fortunately, when it comes to morning coffee, after a few times of going through the motions, your brain can propel your body through the process without exhausting your mental energy. 

Habits can be good, bad, or neutral according to Duhigg, and are formed by a so called "habit loop". The habit loop consists of a cue, routine and reward. This simple process determines a lot of what we do. For example, your alarm goes off in the morning (cue), you wake up, shower and brush your teeth (routine), and you make it to work on time without forgetting anything (reward). 

Understanding the habit loop allows you to step outside the process, in either the personal or professional realm, and make changes to your daily behavior, or the behaviors of others. One of Duhigg's more compelling examples in the book has to do with toothpaste. When the product was first created, tooth brushing was not common. There was no cue to tell people to brush their teeth so the product wasn't selling. So, the makers of Pepsodent created that cue. They added mint flavor to toothpaste and advertised a cure for the film that builds up on teeth throughout the day, a cue to brush. The tingly, minty sensation that comes after brushing became the reward. By instilling a cue for tooth brushing (filmy teeth) and advertising the reward (minty fresh breath), the people at Pepsodent created the tooth brushing habit loop we know today.

Duhigg's The Power of Habit accomplishes what many scientific books do not. It presents relevant research in an entertaining and applicable manner. While many reads delving into how humans think leave me feeling like a science project, The Power of Habit is a refreshing change. The book not only investigates our thought processes but also offers insight into how to step out of the loop giving readers the freedom to change. 

Did you enjoy The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business?

Keep up with the MidlevelU Book Club! We're transitioning back to fiction in July with  The Tiger's Wife: A Novel by Tea Obreht. The read tells the story of Natalia, a young doctor in a war-torn country, who is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances of her beloved grandfather's death. 

 

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