Thursday, June 19, 2014

the power of habit

i'm rereading and enjoying the power of habit by charles duhigg.

this interesting book is divided into three parts:
- how a person's habits emerge and can be changed, 
- the habits of successful companies and organizations, and
- the habits of societies.  

the prologue has two interesting stories.  

the first story tells of a woman who started smoking and drinking at 16, had always struggled with obesity, and had never held a job for a year.  in her mid-twenties, debt collectors had hounded her.  however, now she was in front of researchers healthy and debt-free, a marathon runner who neither smoked nor drank alcohol.  how did the change happen?

that's the story of this book.  

she set a goal (to travel the desert in cairo), with a date (in one year), and importantly decided she would have to quit smoking to do so.  

quitting smoking was a "keystone habit", and led her to replace smoking with running, and this changed her weight.  through the experience of stopping smoking, she taught herself how to change other routines in her life as well.  

the second story is about a major in the u.s. military serving in iraq.  he saw the behavior of individuals and groups as habits, and was able to stop riots due to small changes, such as asking local government officials to prevent food vendors from selling on the plazas.  

Understanding habits is the most important thing I've learned in the army…
It's changed everything about how I see the world.  You want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good?  Pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up.  You want to make running easy?  Create triggers to make it a routine.  I drill my kids on this stuff…  Not one person in Kufa would have told me that we could influence crowds by taking awey the kebab stands, but once you see everything as a bunch of habits, it's like someone gave you a flashlight and a crowbar and you can get to work.   p.xix

tomorrow i'll have the author's flowchart for changing a routine..

see what you think.

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