Non-Fiction Book Review: Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Title: Power of Habit

Author: Charles Duhigg

Genre: Non-Fiction [Habits]

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: 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. -Goodreads

The Review:

On reviewing Non-Fiction: Over the last few years I’ve read more and more non-fiction titles, but haven’t yet incorporated them into my reviewing strategy (until now). I didn’t feel inspired to review them as I would a fiction book, so instead I’m presenting non-fiction reviews as more notes and highlights of my favorite takeaways. It’s my way of journaling my experiences with the books so I have references for myself in the future. Here goes..

The Power of Habit is arguably the most well-written non-fiction book I’ve ever read. It’s a deftly woven exploration of habits through the use of case studies, engaging narrative, and individualistic habit implications. When I read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I came away thinking, “great, I’m going to try to eat better… work out more, etc.,” but while reading Power of Habit it gave me some profound inspirations that I think I can use to help myself through some serious mental health stuff.. yeah, it’s that cool. There were more valuable takeaways from this book than indicated below, I just didn’t start taking notes until about the halfway point.


It’s not about just cutting out a bad habit. It’s about finding something else to do in its place. The habit is the entire ritual of being compelled to do something through a trigger then following through for the payoff. If you want to stop eating cookies, don’t try to cold turkey your reach response for them when you’re hungry/stressed/whatever. Instead follow the habit perfectly but put a healthier alternative in the same spot as the cookies. <-Understanding the forces against change here has been super helpful.

After reading the chapter on Target shopping analysts, I’m now much more concerned with how much data retail companies have on me than I am on what the government has. Our destruction will be orchestrated by Target statisticians lol.

The Habit-Change Experiment:

1. Identify the Routines (what are the cues and rewards?)
2. Experiment with Rewards: change up random things to figure out which reward is driving the routines (the cafeteria/friends/cookie example).
3. Identify the Cue. 1. Where are you? 2. What time is it? 3. What’s your emotional state? 4. Who else is around? 5. What action preceded the urge?
4. Have a plan. Plan for the cue and chose a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving.

Doing these diagnosis experiments helps you gain power over habits that can sometimes feel powerless to change.

Overall rating: 4.5/5 stars. It was excellent.

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