The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Habits are formed by chunking = The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine.

The brain is constantly looking for shortcuts to save energy, effort, and process less information. When a habit is formed, the brain partially shuts off allowing for more energy to be used elsewhere.

Process of Habits:

  1. Cue – trigger that tells brain to go into automatic mode
  2. Routine – physical, mental, or emotional act
  3. Reward – brain determines if feedback loop is worth remembering

Habit loops are important to not overwork our brain. Performing tasks unconsciously is essential to preserving energy – think: driving a car (unconscious competence).

Habits are ideal for non-creative, administrative work.

Habit examples driven from marketing:

Claude C. Hopkins added mint flavor to toothpaste to trick brain into thinking teeth were being cleaned when taste buds noticed fresh taste. Mint taste doesn’t do anything to clean teeth.

Shampoo has no need to foam – foam is added to give the perception shampoo is working.

Habits are unable to be truly extinguished. To change a habit, the old cue must be present and an old or similar reward must result, but a new routine needs to take place.

Golden Rule to Changing Habits: identify and keep cue and reward, but shift the routine that takes place in between. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.

Cultures are built out of keystone habits – habits that over time transform everything.

Keeping habits = little willpower. Changing habits = significant willpower.

Habits are more likely to change when significant events occur. Event is a trigger of crisis (can be +/-), so willpower is bypassed and action will take place regardless of habit.

Crisis/habit ex: Target wants new mother customers because first time baby providers are in state of crisis, and purchasing items at Target consistently will provide a crisis solving habit.

Peer pressure is a social habit that encourages people to conform to group expectations.

For a movement to grow, it must become self-propelling; providing new habits to individuals that help them pre-decide what to think on their own (if a habit is triggered, they aren’t actually thinking for themselves). THINK: habit of always rooting for team, politician, ect… regardless of their performance, but based on their ‘story’ or emotional connection (habit) even if the facts aren’t true.

Habits in summary:

Become aware. Identify cue. Change routine. Implement same/similar reward. Believe in change. Framework for original habit exists, in/out have been modified.

“The way we habitually think of our surroundings and ourselves create the worlds that each of us inhabit.”