The Power of Habit Notes & Summary

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business ...

Link (Amazon)

The book on habit formation. Great writing, interesting stories, and incredible insights on how to control your habits.

  • Each habit means relatively little on its own, but over time, they have a big impact on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness. 
  • 40% of actions people performed each day weren’t actually decisions but habits
  • Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work
  • As a behavior gets more ingrained in you, your mental activity actually decreases. This explains why it can be difficult to start a habit but after you get used to doing the behavior, it becomes easier.
  • Habits occur because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
  • Cue, routine, reward is the habit loop.
  • When you’re in the midst of a habit, your brain stops fully participating in decision making.
  • Habits are delicate. Cues are fickle. For example, “when a fast food restaurant shuts down, the families that previously ate there will often start having dinner at home, rather than seek out an alternative location. Even small shifts can end the pattern.”
  • The habit loop is how Pepsodent toothpaste and Febreeze became common household items.
  • Once a monkey had developed a habit – once its brain anticipated the reward – the distractions had no allure.
  • Habits create neurological cravings.
  • The key is to replace one habit with another.
  • We typically don’t really understand the cravings driving our behaviors until we look for them.
  • A community creates belief because we can see the change is real in other people.
  • The idea of keystone habits says that some habits are more important than others. Keystone habits are habits that have the power to influence every aspect of someone’s life. 
    • For many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.
    • Keystone habits create “small wins”
  • Dozens of studies show willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.
  • Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than intellect.
  • People’s buying habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event.
  • Sandwich theory – Put something you want to change in between two things you already like doing.
  • Upon joining a particular church, they require you to sign a covenant card that you promise: daily quiet time for reflection and prayer, tithing 10 percent of your income, and membership in a smaller group.
  • “But what was really interesting was the near misses. To pathological gamblers, near misses looked like wins. Their brains reacted almost the same way. But to a non pathological gambler, a near miss was like a loss. People without a gambling problem were better at recognizing that a near miss means you still lose.”
  • Scratch off tickets are designed to make you feel like you almost won.
  • If you believe you can make a change, you can.
  • Popular cues: Location, time, emotional state, other people, immediately preceding action