I recently received a copy of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg as a birthday gift from my parents (no they don’t think I have terrible habits – it was on my Amazon wish list). I finished it this morning and recommend it if you are looking for something to help you understand the latest on what habits are, how they are formed and what we can do to change them that actually works. If you want to be cheap, just pickup a copy in a bookstore and read the 11 page appendix and you’ll get the gist. At first I was worried that the book’s concept was simply modernized behaviorism, but as I read more and got deeper in I realized that while the habit mechanism is the same, there are two important differences in what Duhigg prescribes:
- He acknowledges free will and the idea that there is something going on inside of us that is a higher order than just our habits.
- Rather than changing the reward (or punishment) as behaviorism does, Duhigg’s model focuses on changing the routine that is stimulated from the cue (stimulus). This obviously requires both consciousness and thinking to recognize the routine and come up with alternatives.
When you realize how much of your life you live habitually, it makes some sense to spend a little time understanding how those habits get formed and what you can do to hack them a bit. Think of it lifestyle automation.