By Sierra Maciorowski
What do you do when you first wake up?
Chances are, even unwittingly, your morning is filled with specific, unique habits. Whether you brush your teeth before or after breakfast, or skip breakfast altogether, each part of your daily routine is habit-dependent. And, as anyone who has ever tried to stick to a New Year’s resolution knows, habit-breaking is hard.
An ever-continuing cycle of needs, each habit in itself is difficult to change. But, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Duhigg argues in his New York Times Bestseller, The Power of Habit, habits can be disassembled and reformed–especially once you identify them. As he examines research on anything from Target shopper preferences to the spark behind the Civil Rights Movement, Duhigg proves that changing one small habit can make or break your life.
Today, the holidays are approaching quickly, with New Year’s resolutions just around the corner. And, with them, come the sudden beliefs in change–want to exercise every day? Want to work harder in school? It will be a New Year, and cultural traditions tell us that anything is possible. However, Duhigg’s work gives us the power to actually make our resolutions come true.
Unlike self-help books, The Power of Habit focuses on research, not guesswork. The details of Target’s ability to recognize pregnant shoppers, the game-changing beliefs of former NFL coach Tony Dungy, and a middle-aged mother’s gambling obsession all help to demonstrate the true power of habits.
But, how can they be modified?
Habitual actions evolve through a constant process: cue, routine, reward. And identifying the behaviors associated with each of these three steps, Duhigg says, allows people to consciously modify their decisions.
His understanding does simplify the psychological-behavioral connections between each part of the process, but his persuasive language convinces his readers of their ability to change their lives. And, while simplified, Duhigg’s three steps do make much more sense than a long-winded psychological textbook.
Habits can cause problems: addiction, lack of environmental awareness, and forgetfulness, to name a few. But they can also be beneficial. Because of their wide range, Duhigg never gets the chance to discuss all types of habitual behaviors, nor go into complete detail on everything he does mention. However, The Power of Habit is still a smoothly flowing, fascinating, and educational work.
With so many habits controlling every move, reading Duhigg’s latest work inspires belief in oneself, and one’s ability to change. Yet, The Power of Habit is more than a mere guide to self-revision.
After all, understanding is the key to change; perhaps the greatest gift that Duhigg can give us is not the power of habit, but the power to comprehend habit.