Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Power of Habit

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business (kindle version) by Charles Duhigg.

Duhigg sets out, and accomplishes to show us why we do what we do. As individuals, businesses and churches. He does this very well and is successful.

He talks about the habit loop, which is when there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic.

To change a habit, Duhigg points out that the routine must change. One of his examples of how this is successful is AA, where you go to 90 meetings in the first 90 days. This is changing the routine. Getting an alcoholic out of the environments and situations where they are likely to drink.

I agree with this, the problem is that it takes away the heart of an issue. Someone can stop drinking, and simply start another habit, one that can still be a problem or a sin. This happened to me in my journey 14 years ago, as I traded an addiction to porn for a food addiction. You can read more about that here. The sad part in churches is that depending on your sinful habit, you may never get challenged on it.

If I had to say one thing I didn’t like about the book, it would be the last chapter. It was almost like he was filling space or wanted to make a political point on free will and choices. He talks about compulsive gamblers and people who commit crimes while sleepwalking. The judicial system handles them differently, compulsive gamblers are liable for their debts because they chose to gamble, while those who commit a crime while sleepwalking, aren’t convicted because “they wouldn’t normally do that, they are powerless cause they are asleep.” If you know anything about the book of Romans or anywhere else in the Bible, you know that isn’t true. Both should be held accountable, both are accountable, both are equally guilty because what is in the heart eventually comes out (Matthew 15:18).

That would be my one issue, if you don’t change the heart, you can’t change a habit. What Duhigg writes is a great supplement to how to change a habit practically after your heart issues are dealt with.

Here are a few other things that jumped out:

  • Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.
  • Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.
  • 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.
  • Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.
  • To change an old habit, you must address an old craving.
  • We don’t really understand the cravings driving our behaviors until we look for them.
  • For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.
  • The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group. Belief is essential, and it grows out of a communal experience, even if that community is only as large as two people.
  • Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are “keystone habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.
  • Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.
  • The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.
  • 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.
  • Good leaders seize crises to remake organizational habits.
  • When sociologists have examined how opinions move through communities, how gossip spreads or political movements start, they’ve discovered a common pattern: Our weak-tie acquaintances are often as influential—if not more—than our close-tie friends.
  • The only way you get people to take responsibility for their spiritual maturity is to teach them habits of faith.
  • For an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling. And the surest way to achieve that is to give people new habits that help them figure out where to go on their own.
  • Movements don’t emerge because everyone suddenly decides to face the same direction at once. They rely on social patterns that begin as the habits of friendship, grow through the habits of communities, and are sustained by new habits that change participants’ sense of self.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Power of Habit

  1. Pingback: Top Posts of February | JoshuaReich.org

  2. “The only way you get people to take responsibility for their spiritual maturity is to teach them habits of faith.”

    Would you mind sharing what you think are the habits of faith?

    • Things for someone’s own growth. Things like prayer, community, worship, scripture reading, sabbath keeping. As long as your spiritual growth is up to a pastor, what you get from a sermon, you haven’t take responsibility for it.

  3. Pingback: Top Posts of March 2013 | JoshuaReich.org

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