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

I came into this with a whole lot of hesitation. The problem is that my ‘to-read’ list is now hundred of entries long. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, it does mean that by the time I get around to actually reading something, I have largely lost sight of what it was that motivated me to put it on the list to begin with.

That is a common refrain on this silly little blog.

I was (a very long time ago) on a self-help kick wherein I read some dozen self-help books and found none of them at all helpful. My concern here was that this would be a continuation of that.

The Power of Habit is not a self-help book. Instead, it is a a look at what we know, scientifically, about habits, good or bad. Chapter by chapter, it goes through the various anecdotes and exemplary cases that have proven what it is we know about how habits are formed and how then can in turn be broken. If you are actually interested in understanding your own actions, and are able to look the possibility that maybe you are less of an active agent in your life and your choices than it would appear to be, this book may be for you. If the notion that the true driving force of our actions are neural patterns in our brain is something you kind of enjoy, then you will like this book. The question you should ask yourself before reading it is, do i like entry-level science explanation books? If so, give this a read. Otherwise you can skip it. The explanations are pretty superficial. If you already have a passing idea of the science behind all this, perhaps look elsewhere.

I would say that there really isn’t anything actually prescriptive about this book. For that, you should read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, the only self-help book I thought was worth a fuck. Still, in terms of changing actual habits, I don’t think reading about it what you are missing, just in the same way you could never master how to play basketball by reading a book. Learning to master your habits is a different beast altogether. This books argues that there are some limited things we can do to set ourselves up for success, and Clear’s book set you up with actual actionable steps to try to get those results. I still think even these steps are an over simplification, but certainly there are worth trying.

As I have joked on my sister blog, I have quit smoking, and I will surely quit smoking again. It was never really about anything I read or did.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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