Book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Read this book for the first time in 2016 and re-read it now (2019). The first time I read it, I did not take notes, so I decided to “properly read/listen” now.

I like the number of studies this book shows and how much we understand about our habits by looking at its results. Some of these studies are already debunked by science (like the marshmallow study), but it’s still a great book.

At the end of the book, the author provides some examples of how you can use the content of the book to apply to your habits. The goal of this book is not to give you a step-by-step guide on how to change your habits, but to show you how they work. Your cues and rewards are unique, and you have to understand yourself to deal with them.

I will keep this piece of the review here. I wrote it in 2016 right after adopting my dog:

I’m training a little dog now, and it’s really impressive to see how we made some habits for him. It became natural for the dog to pee on a specific place, for example. The important part is to keep the same cue, routine, and reward. :)

My dog is three years old now. :)

Here are my notes for this book:

  • More than 40% of actions people perform every day are not actual decisions but habits according to paper by Duke University in 2006
  • Removing food from the plaza where a group unites was a good way of not keeping them there. When people start to get hungry, they go somewhere else
  • The research was done with Eugene, known as EP in the medical literature
  • The basal ganglia stores habits in the brain
  • The brain is continually looking for ways to reduce effort – it seems to be the same idea exposed by thinking fast and slow :)
  • Patients with basal ganglia damage can’t get basic feelings because they don’t understand simple face recognitions (they don’t know where to focus)
  • Whin cues come out of order or in a different shape, they are not recognized, and the habit is not started.
  • The cue starts the need for a reward and the craving for the routine to achieve it. That’s one of the reasons why cellphone notifications are so difficult to resist
  • Some people say they like to workout because of the feeling of endorphins, others because of the sense of accomplishment when tracking their results – I’m at the gym now, and I’m not sure what motivates me. Maybe keeping my routine? (PS. I’m not too fond of the gym environment, but it’s ok now)… oooh… Got it, it’s the audiobooks! :)
  • The breeze by P&G was created as a great product to remove odor. In the end, they found out that no one wants to admit that their house stinks, so there’s no cue. They transformed the product into something else that smells good and created another cue at the end of cleaning. Tne product got millions of revenue. – yeah… In the end, it’s all about money.
  • The cravings drive the habit loop. You need to feel the need for something to power the habit
  • A football trainer (buccaneers) applied a habit-changing routine to his players for years. This training made players not think in certain situations, but apply habits instead, which is faster. – it reminds me about playing drums. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m playing, I just start, and the rhythm takes care of itself
  • Belief is important. It doesn’t have to be God, but you have to believe that you will get through stressful moments when your routine is not working
  • “Some football teams are not teams; they are just guys who work together” – saw that more than once but with developers
  • Changing one habit may chain many other reactions and enhancements. Like changing safety may increase profits and communication. One habit change sometimes requires a whole infrastructure change
  • Michael Phelps routine has nothing to do with swimming, but it’s related to his success
  • “It may be hard to fire someone who’s been working for the company for so long, but not for me. Our values dictated how to act.” He fired himself.
  • The director changed named parking spots in the parking lot. Whoever gets to work earlier will get the best spot. Every person matter. – whatever getting to work earlier, but every person matter makes total sense
  • Studies show that willpower is the single most important habit that contributes to people’s success
  • Starbucks had to invest in creating an environment where it would be ok to pay $5 for a coffee
  • Yet another book mentioning the marshmallow study
  • Willpower is like a muscle, and you have to exercise it. It’s a finite resource. If you want to do something that requires willpower you better do it in the morning or conserve your willpower for the night
  • It’s important so sign children to piano (or anything else) lessons because it teaches them the willpower to study, not just piano itself
  • “We’re not in the coffee business serving people. We’re in the people business serving coffee”, Starbucks former president
  • When people are doing things that require willpower, and they feel doing it for themselves or helping someone else, it is less taxing on their willpower. If they feel they are just following orders, it will require a lot more willpower to get the job done
  • If a company doesn’t cultivate habits to build a good culture, it will still emerge but in a disorganized way.
  • You usually turn right when you enter the supermarket
  • Our brain likes to listen to songs that seem familiar, and this is what makes a big hit.
  • If you dress a new something into an old habit, it’s easier for people to accept it (hey ya example)
  • Martin Luther King Jr movement was also based on social habits, strong and weak connections, and peer pressure. It was created in a way where many people agreed, and others will feel bad or “against it” if they did not participate (after all, they support it, but some were just not committed enough and could drop it without peer pressure)
  • To political movements to succeed, people have to change their habits. Their identities have to change.
  • Near misses in a slot machine (and possibly other places) are very addictive for the brain, especially for those sensitive to gambling
  • Once you know a bad habit exists, you have the freedom and responsibility to change it. You will be held accountable for it.
  • This book provides a framework to understand how habits work and a guide on how they can be changed
  • To change a habit, find the cue reward, and routine, and then change the routine. Try some alternate routines keeping the same cue and reward. Take notes of your feelings right after the routine and reward. After 15 minutes, are you still craving for this habit? Example: buy a cookie every day. Try to buy different things or buy in different places to find the exact reward you want to have, and then keep the new routine
  • Take notes of your cravings and what’s the situation that triggered it: time, action, where, mood, etc. It will help you to identify the pattern