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The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change

The Power of Habit - book coverCharles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change is really two books in one.

One starts with medical science and is a fascinating tale of how the way the brain works. It shows how much of our behaviour is driven by habits – often subconscious and frequently hard to alter. What in a moment of calm reflection we wish to do and what we actually end up doing is often not the same, thanks to our habits.

Making the right decisions when you are making quick or pressurised decisions is often a matter of habit, and this part of the book is a great guide to how habits form and can be changed.

Although the idea is not novel – it was Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act but a habit” – the book uses the latest in brain research to fill out the idea.

The other book in here uses the language of habits but is not really about habits. Instead, it is an interesting meander through different aspects of business and life, looking at how people seek to influence others. It is, however, not about habit.

The accounts of how shops try to work out people’s buying patterns and so maximise their marketing and special offers is interesting and a good read. Yet the accounts would be pretty much the same whether those patterns were caused by people shopping out of habit or shopping out of careful, explicit rational thought.

It means the book does not quite hang together as a whole. Consider it instead as a collection of different articles and it is a great entertaining read – and one which means I now understand why easily damaged goods such as fruit are sold when you walk into a supermarket rather than in the more convenient location of just before the tills, where there would be less risk of them being damaged in your basket or trolley (get people to put healthy food in their baskets first and they’re then more likely to be happy to also put in less healthy food, making for a larger overall shop).


If you like this, you might also be interested in Language Intelligence.

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Buy The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change by Charles Duhigg here.

5 responses to “The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change”

    • It makes you buy more – you feel virtuous for having taken the fruit and then buy more chocolate and so on near the till than you would have if they were reversed.

    • I would have thought its so you can dally over choosing them carefully without holding heavy baskets, people that buy lots of fruit often use baskets.

  1. In his bestselling book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, a business reporter for the New York Times, conveys his research in the fields of psychology and neuroscience to provide a scientific approach to understanding habits.

    If you are interested in learning more about the ideas introduced by Charles Duhigg but you are not able to spare the time to sit down and read the THE POWER OF HABIT, then why not read the shorten version?

    THE POWER OF HABIT…in 30 MINUTES is the essential guide to creating change, breaking habits, understanding willpower, and comprehending the main ideas behind Charles Duhigg’s bestseller. You can grab a copy on Amazon for $4.99:

    Best of luck in changing your habits!

  2. Doesn’t work for me. I have a list. If anything, putting the fruit and veg at the start encourages me to spend more time over it, so I might just buy something unexpected if there’s a wide variety on offer. By the time I come to the chocolate and biscuits, I’m pushing to get the rather irritating experience done and will stick to ticking off what’s on the list. The beer, mind you, is a different matter: I may buy a bottle when I already have three at home because I’m intrigued or have never seen that favourite real ale in a bottle before. But then I do not risk feeling guilty for buying bottled real ale. I feel virtuous.

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