The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive summary of the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get access to a downloadable worksheet.

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Humans are creatures of habits. By analyzing your behavior you can pinpoint your bad habits and more particularly, the isolated actions that are holding you down. By doing the latter, you can cleanse the self-sabotaging behavior, replace it with such that acts for your interest, and finally thrive. Healthy habits are the cornerstone of a successful, happy life and what the author is sharing in The Power of Habit is surely something you’ll want to master.

The Core Idea

You don’t need to make drastic changes in your life if you want to lose weight or if you want to stop smoking, you simply need to replace your current routines with such that will work for your interest. Or in other words, change bad habits with good ones. Adopt good daily habits. And understand the power of keystone habits.

5 Key Lessons from The Power of Habit:

Lesson #1: Why Habits Are Formed?

Think about your daily actions. Like, really think about all of the things you’re doing in a single day, and you will quickly understand that on a lot of occasions during the day you’re executing really complex tasks without ever thinking about them.

We can take driving for example. You’re driving, parking the car, maneuvering around other vehicles on the road, shifting gears if you’re driving a stick without giving much thought about all of those things.

But it wasn’t always like that, wasn’t it?

When we’re learning how to drive we’re super focused. Some of us can’t even listen to music while we are behind the wheel because we can’t concentrate. It took me a couple of months till I finally figure out how to shift gears without giving too much pressure on the car. Now, I do it automatically. I don’t even think about the gears, I know when to switch. I’m sure you can relate.

So, how tasks that previously took us months to master are now executed effortlessly?

According to the research in the book, habits occur because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save energy.

Basically, our brain is trying to automate pretty much everything we do because this will free up more time for rest. And it’s doing this in the background. More time for rest equals better chances for survival. It’s that simple and that’s why habits are so important.

Or in other words, if we automate tasks that are not helping us in the long-term, we’ll fail. In contrast, if we embed patterns that are beneficial for us, we’ll soon crush our goals.

Lesson #2: Your Choices are Important

Forming and building permanent habits have a lot to do with our decisions.

Before a certain behavior is formed and before it becomes automatic, we first have to make a decision. When this decision is repeated a couple of times, it then starts to become automatic behavior. Or in other words, a long-lasting habit that’s hard to break glues in the back of your brain.

If every time you walk past the fridge you decide to take a biscuit your mind will record the steps. If you do it a couple of times your mind will then prompt you to open the fridge whenever you pass near it. Because, this is what you’ve been doing for the last 10 times.

I had this nasty habit when I was little and living with my parents. I opened the fridge to check if there is something sweet to eat. When there was, I ate. I did it for years, that’s why I do it automatically now. I get up, go to the fridge, I take something, and while I eat I “wake up” and I see that I’m holding a cake. No wonder I wasn’t able to lose weight for years.

So, if you want to break a bad habit or stop some sort of repeated action that won’t be so helpful in the future make sure to acknowledge what you’re doing before “opening the fridge” becomes automatic for you. Understand that you control the situation and the decision you’re going to make now, can interfere with your future success.

In short: learn to say “No” to things that don’t bring any value to your life in the long run.

Hey there, sorry to interrupt…

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