Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 24, 2017

Section 8 Michelle Boudreaux- Installment 1: The Power of Habit

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

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is an enlightening book that can not only be used for personal gain, but also for shaping businesses, social movements, and even governments. This book is centered around the quote, “habits can be changed if we understand how they work”. It explains how a habit is formed, the impact a habit has, why habits exist, and how habits can be changed. It also details the massive potential habit carries to transform human nature. By harnessing the power of habit, Duhigg promises, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
Habits would not exist if it were not for a specific part of the brain called the basil ganglia. Scientific research on this has revolutionized our understanding of habits and how they are formed. The term “Habit Loop” is the process by which habits are formed. It is extremely simple in that it only has three steps: cue, routine, and reward. Forming a habit starts with the brain being cued by something, like smelling a cookie. This cue proceeds to send the brain into a routine, like going out to buy a cookie. This routine results in a reward, like eating the cookie. The reward part of the Habit Loop determines if a habit is worth remembering for later use. By following this routine of indulging in unhealthy snacks, it may eventually result in weight gain and the formation of a bad habit. Although the basil ganglia is very intricate, it still cannot understand the difference between a good habit and a bad habit, hence why we are able to form bad habits.
Habits derive their strength from cravings, a need or want for something. These cravings are the reason why the idea of a Habit Loop is so relevant today. With every craving comes a reward, if  that craving is indulged, that is. Duhigg applies this idea to personal develop and the marketplace. In order to have a successful business, one must understand the correct rewards for cravings. Cinnabon, for instance, places their stores strategically in malls so that the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafts throughout the hallways. The same thing goes for personal development. To kick a bad habit, this same understanding of rewards and cravings still applies. The only difference is a new routine must also be made. By indulging a craving with a reward, a person is giving into their habit and making it stronger. That person should instead attempt to understand the reasoning behind that specific craving. Until the ability to understand why they are craving something is unlocked, their habits will continue to control them. After identifying the reasoning behind their craving, they must then believe change can take place. Belief is as close as it comes to a guaranteed bad habit eliminator. It is the main focus in many organizations, like Alcoholics Anonymous, simply because it instills the idea that change is possible, and bad habits can be overcome if one simply just believes.

I came across this video while researching for this project. The man in it talks about the five lessons he has learned from this book, as well as further explaining certain parts of it. He only talks about it for three and a half minutes, so it is really easy to follow and take time to understand what he is saying. He goes over some parts of the book that I did not touch on, as well as examples in his personal life that he connects with the lessons he has learned.




  1. Habits are a crazy thing if you think about it because they seem to be something you really can't help but do but in reality you just need to be strong enough mentally to break though it. Both eating and sleeping habits are the two biggest habits to fight because they both are things we do everyday, so if we don't have time it is easy to slip up.

  2. Section 8- Commentary

    First of all, I thought that your installment was a great read. I enjoyed how you related philosophy back to biology to prove your points. I think it is great to know that help can be obtained in a "Habit Loop" if the reward system is replaced with something more beneficial. My only problem with your installment is that I would have liked to see more links backing up this argument. I think that I would have definitely liked to read more about the psychology behind the reward system or something similar to that.

  3. Nice, you anticipated my closing "advice" about the importance of forming positive daily habits and sticking to them.

    THe great historical resource on the power of habit is in James's "Principles of Psychology," and in "Talks to Teachers": https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/tt8.html

    A breezier recent discussion is here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/09/25/william-james-on-habit/

  4. Section 8- Commentary

    I've always been fascinated in the idea of habits and how they're formed.

    You went into enough depth of the concept of habits to where it was easy to follow, but not too much to where there was an overwhelming amount of information thrown out.

    Your post definitely has my attention with the topic to where I might actually read the book to learn more. Also, the video worked well with your installment.