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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How To Change It    by Charles Duhigg Amazon.com order for
Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Research suggests that about 40 percent of our daily actions fall into the realm of habit rather than actual decision making. We often don't even realize the important role these habits play for good or bad in our daily lives.

Brushing our teeth each morning, a glass of wine with dinner, enjoying a piece of chocolate as you watch the late night news they are all habits.

Understanding why habits exist, how they are triggered and, more importantly, how they can be altered is the subject of Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It.

On its simplest level a habit is a simple neurological loop which consists of a cue, routine and reward. Dividing his book into three parts, Duhigg begins by exploring the neurology of habit formation. Here he looks at how to build new habits and change old ones. He looks at keystone habits which can influence how we work, eat, play, live and communicate.

'Keystone habits start a process that over time, transforms everything,' writes the author, explaining that they have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization or influence a person.

The next section of the book delves into the habits of successful companies and organizations while the third part does the same by looking at the habits of society.

In applying what he has learned about habits and how they can be changed, Duhigg focuses his attention on examples that his reader can easily relate to and understand. He shows how Tony Dungy took a struggling professional team and simply altered some habits, thereby changing it into a very successful and winning organization.

You'll also learn how some very talented surgeons made some very serious mistakes when a hospital's organizational habits went awry, why social habits in Alabama helped launch the civil rights movement and how a young minister created a huge church in California.

Never losing sight of his central topic, Duhigg explains that each chapter in the book revolves around a central argument: 'Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.'

He makes it quite clear that if you understand how a habit functions, you can change it. 'However, to modify a habit, you must decide to change it,' Duhigg writes. 'You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits' routines, and find alternatives ... Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them.'

Whether at home, in the classroom , the workplace or any place else for that matter, the lessons learned in this book can be put to good use. Applying the information provided in these pages will not only assist a person in changing negative habits but also point the way to creating some very positive replacements.

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