The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
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 are about understanding how habits work. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
Here’s what you’ll learn about in this summary:
– How cravings create andpower new habits.
– How to apply the golden rule of habit change.
– Why the brain tries to make routines into habits.
– What “keystone habits” are and the importance of them creating a new routine.
“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.”
“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.”
“This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.”
This book is grounded in so much sound scientific evidence it’ll make your head spin. From case studies to interviews, to on-sight research projects at some of the world’s greatest companies—Duhigg worked hard not to leave any stone unturned when it came to helping us understand the mechanics of habits.
Habits, by definition, are choices that we all make deliberately at some point—and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.
At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink or when to go for a jog. But then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of our neurology…
And by understanding how it happens, you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.
So, are you ready to dive into learning how to make that happen? Let’s begin with our first big idea…
Lesson 1: Habits work in 3-step loops: cue, routine, reward.
Habits are your brain’s way of saving energy. Given you spend around 6 of your 16 waking hours doing things you’re not aware of, it might be worth understanding what happens here.
Duhigg discovered that at the root of all habits, like drinking your coffee every morning, lies a simple 3-part loop.
Thecueis what triggers you to do the habit. e.g:- sitting down at your kitchen table to have breakfast every morning at 7 AM.
Theroutineis the behavior you then automatically engage in, which, for drinking coffee, might be to go over to your coffeemaker, turn it on and press the “large cup” button.
Lastly, you’ll receive arewardfor completing the routine, such as the rich smell of your coffee, its hearty taste, and getting to watch the steam rise from the cup as it sits on your kitchen table in the sunlight (I really love coffee, can you tell?).
Lesson 2: You can change your habits by substituting just one part of the loop, the routine.
Naturally, the more often you reinforce a habit,the more embedded in your brain it gets.
In the case of the coffee, you might crave it the second you sit down at your kitchen table, and when you can’t have it that day, because the machine broke, you’ll probably get very grumpy and buy one later at work.
The trick to changing a habit then is to switch the routine and leave everything else intact.
Duhigg calls this the golden rule.
If you’re trying to get off caffeine, the tweak is incredibly simple: switch to decaf (like my “friend” Replacing Rick).
You’ll still have the entire experience from A to Z, but instead of pressing a button you’re now pouring hot water over decaf coffee powder, and voilà, you won’t miss caffeine for even a single day.
Lesson 3: Your most important habit is willpower, and you can strengthen it over time in 3 ways.
Not all habits are created equal and Duhigg sayswillpoweris by far one of the most important ones, as it helps us do better in all aspects of life.
Having been to the moon and back in terms of willpower research, I don’t want to tell you to eat right, sleep enough and exercise regularly.My friend Colin is much better at that.
Instead, here are 3 uncommon ways in which you can grow your total willpower capacity over time:
A. Do something that requires a lot of discipline.For example, a tough wake-up regimen or strict diet willmake youconstantly practice delaying gratificationand thus give you more willpower to exert throughout your day.
B. Plan ahead for worst-case scenarios.Even just thinking about your boss yelling at you before it ever happens will help you not lose your cool when it does.
C. Preserve your autonomy.Yesterday I learned thatautonomy wasa major part of living a passionate life. Today I learned thatif you take it away, your willpower also goes down the drain. When you’re assigned tasks by someoneelse, which you must do, your willpower muscle tires much quicker.
Obviously, changing some habits is more difficult than this, but the framework is a good place to start.
Once you understand how a habit operates — once you diagnose the cue, routine and rewards — you gain power over it.
10 Mind-blowing Lessons From the Book “The Power of Habit”
1. The Habit Loop
Put simply, the habit loop is composed of cues, routines, and rewards.
✅Train yourself to notice particular cues, which then trigger routines and bring you rewards.
2. Cue Categories
5 main categories of cues:
– emotional state
– other people
– action immediately preceding the cue
👉Recognizing what cues you currently have in your life and how to seek out or avoid them is critical.
3. Keystone or Foundational Habits
Keystone habits are usually small and result in a “win” for you, which snowballs into greater habit formation and control.
👉As an example, dieters who keep a food journal are more successful at losing weight.
4. Plan for Pain
✅ If you write out a plan about what you’ll do when pain comes knocking on your door, you’ll be more successful at withstanding that pain.
✅A craving, defined by this book, is the anticipation of reward.
It’s important to be aware of any cravings you have in your life as they can hijack or start a habit loop early, making it more difficult to quit bad habits.
6. Repetition and Automation
The truth is that most of what we do is at least partially automated.
👉Hijacking this tendency of our brain to set certain activities on the back burner can help us form healthy habits that we don’t even need to think about.
7. Freedom is Important
The book makes it clear that there’s no single way to achieve good habits and quit bad habits.
✅The book focuses on providing you with a framework necessary to recognize the habits you have and learn how to create helpful habits.
8. Manipulate the Craving
✅One trick that might work for you when it comes to breaking bad habits is to not ignore or resist a craving a bad habit cue, but to instead change it.
9. The Crowd is Important
The people you surround yourself with can affect your success in forming or breaking habits.
👉You must surround yourself with those who are also trying to form the same habit or trying to break a bad habit
10. Personal Responsibility
You must get into the habit (pun intended) of taking responsibility for your bad actions.
🚫Don’t say it isn’t your fault; lean into the difficulty and face the challenge head-on.
From the book:-
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg