Monday, April 30, 2012

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and in business

I was intrigued by the stories that were given as write-ups for Duhigg's The Power of Habit. There is one about a woman who lost weight, got out of debt and improved her entire life. Another is the story about how Febreeze was almost became a huge flop. Also included is how Rick Warren grew Saddleback into one of the largest churches in North America.

But what the book is really about is how habits are an intrinsic part of who we are – from our daily lives to our relationships to our jobs. Duhigg shows that even one small change of one new habit can affect a person's entire life. Although he does give some negative examples, most of the stories he outlines are positive ones. What he really emphasizes is the power of habit. I found myself thinking about see what habit I could incorporate or change in my own life.

Habits, according to Duhigg's research, are formed because we have received certain rewards for a particular routine. We don't think about our routines – even those people who have lost the capacity for memory can learn new routines. If you want to change your habit, half of the battle is figuring out what really gives you a mental charge. The next step is to develop your routine with the goal of that feeling of pleasure/accomplishment. If you change your routine, then you can change what gives you (and your brain) a positive lift. Once you have a new habit, you will not have to think about it, and we tend to change other habits to reflect this change.

Click on link in the title of the book above to see Duhigg's own explanation of his book. It is very concise. 

In terms of my faith, I had two ideas while reading this book. The first was having to do with my prayer life. I used to have the habit of getting up in the morning and having a prayer time/devotional time that lasted at least thirty minutes or more. Now I am lucky to have ten minutes of quiet time to spend with God. So, I would like to change my morning habit of sleeping late. Although the reward is quality time with God, I still need to ascertain if that is a tangible reward. The second thought was about the church I pastor. If I could change one of our social or spiritual habits (Duhigg shows that we have individual as well as cultural habits), perhaps this would change some of our other habits for the good of the congregation and community. I am thinking in terms of prayer or small groups. At this point, I need to expand my prayer life so I can think on it!

What habits to you have? What habits would you like to change or develop? The Power of Habit may be the one you need to read. I highly recommend it.

Happy reading!


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