The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg | Book Summary

Book Name- The Power Of Habit

Author- Charles Duhigg

Habits play an extremely important part in our lives. Good habits hold the potential to make a successful and blissful life.

On the other hand, bad habits can destroy the whole life.

Many people live in the illusion that they have conscious control of their life. But when the time comes to end a bad habit they keep falling off again and again.

Almost all successful people hold some good habits that make them successful. Some of those habits are common and some are unique.

Good habits will make you productive, happy, and content. While bad habits will make you tired, sad, exhaust, unproductive, and confused.

If you’re struggling with bad habits and want to replace them with good ones then you have to understand the science behind habits and our neuro-behavior.

You need to understand how habits play a role in our lives and how to make use of them.

For this purpose, the author “Charles Duhigg” has written this amazing book “The Power Of Habit” to explain the power of habits and science behind them.

Most important takeaways from “The Power Of Habit” are as follows-

1- How Habits Works?

the power of habit book summary
  • All habits can be broken down into a three-step process.
    1. Cues- these are triggers or stimuli (sight, smell, touch, thought, or sound).
    2. Response- thoughts or actions.
    3. Reward- Sense of pleasure through sensation, emotion, or thought.
  • Habits are triggered by cues which then lead into a response and the response ultimately culminates in a reward.
  • As we take action to a certain cue in repetition, it creates an automatic craving for reward in our mind, thus this loop becomes a habit.
  • When a habit emerges the brain no longer works so hard in decision-making. The loop pattern will unfold automatically.

2- Categories Of Cues

the power of habit book summary

Almost all cues fall into one of five different categories. So you may check what triggers you to take a particular action.

  1. Time
  2. Location
  3. Emotional state
  4. Other people
  5. Immediately preceding action

Knowing these five categories of cues is useful when you want to start changing bad habits.

You may notice how your habits are linked to one of those five cues.

Habits are delicate things. They don’t trigger unless the cue triggers them. So if you don’t expose yourself to a cue you’re not going to do a habit.

Being aware of these cues is important for both good habits and bad habits.

You need to build cues that trigger good habits and you must try to avoid cues that trigger the bad ones.


3- Cravings

the power of habit book summary
  • Strong habits are driven by cravings, not the reward.
  • when you’re exposed to a cue for a habit that you’ve already had and have gone through many different times, your brain gets that spike of activity (dopamine rush) before even going through the routine or action.
  • At that point, you get the craving to get the reward and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that keeps the habit going.
  • With a certain cue, your mind automatically recalls the pleasure it experienced in past and craves for that same pleasure again and again.

Cravings are what drive habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.


4- How to Change A Habit?

the power of habit book summary
  • Bad habits cannot be erased. But they can be transformed.
  • Habits can only be overridden by consciously taken a new set of actions and get transformed into a new habit.
  • The only thing you can control to change a habit is to change your routine or response.
  • Rather than changing a habit you must keep the old cue and the old reward but insert a new routine.
  • Commit yourself to make productive responses whenever you tackle a cue of old habit.
  • This way you can transform your destructive behaviors into productive ones.

“But to change an old habit, you must address an old craving. You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine.”


5- The Keystone Habit

the power of habit book summary
  • Some habits have a tendency to spawn other habits with chain reaction and these habits are called keystone habits. Keystone habits create widespread changes.
  • Once a small win has been accomplished it creates momentum for another small win.
  • This creates a snowball effect and over time you’ll be convinced that bigger accomplishments are within reach.
  • The book mentions that for people trying to lose weight one of the most successful methods is simply having a daily food journal.
  • By establishing this one little, easy-to-maintain habit dieters were actually able to recognize patterns in their life they hadn’t noticed before.
  • That spurred them on to start making more positive changes like increased awareness about the food they eat and to start the exercise.
  • Essentially, keystone habits help to create small wins which, in turn, boost your overall motivation and give you some momentum to build even more habits in your life.

6- WILLPOWER- Make Success a Habit

the power of habit book summary
  • Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.
  • This isn’t just a skill but it’s a muscle that gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.
  • We have a limited amount of willpower at our disposal each day. So better use it for things that actually matter.
  • The best way to strengthen the willpower muscle is to make it a habit.
  • Make willpower an automatic trigger by practicing your craft over and over.
  • This is why signing up kids for piano lessons or sports are so important. it is not all about creating a good musician or a sports star.
  • When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run 20 laps, you train your willpower muscle to allow you to focus on other important things.
  • Another way to make willpower stronger is by joining other people having similar habit you want to make.